Metro transgender man denied at U-Haul after employees say they can’t verify his identity

GLADSTONE, Mo. -- It took six trips to move most of Tyler Sproston's belongings from Richmond to his new home in Gladstone.

That's because he was forced to move everything in his personal car, instead of truck he had reserved at U-Haul.

"I've spoken with eight people, wasted an obscene amount of time and have no idea why I couldn't rent from their company," said Sproston who called FOX4 Problem Solvers after U-Haul denied him a rental truck.

Sprosten said the problem started Sept. 5 -- moving day.

He tried to do the mobile check-in to pick up his reserved rental truck. But the mobile phone app wouldn't accept his driver's license. So he called U-Haul corporate.

"They couldn't verify my identity," he said.

A U-Haul customer service agent suggested he go to the store in person and see if that would resolve the problem. So he did. He paid a visit to the U-Haul in Liberty.

"I give them my driver's license, run my debit card and then the gal who was helping me says, 'Oh, we have an E-alert,'" said Sproston, who was then directed to call U-Haul's corporate office again.

He did, but kept getting bounced around from one person to the next -- none of whom seem to know what the problem is.

Finally, a woman at corporate called the Liberty U-Haul store.

"She gets back on the phone, and she said they said something was off," Sproston said. "What's off? I have a valid driver's license, a valid debit card. I have a perfect driving record. I paid for their insurance. Why am I unable to rent a truck with your company?"

"'Well, they have the right to refuse service,'" Sproston said he was told.

He was both livid and confused.

"I want to know why," Sproston said.

He ended up having to delay his move by one day and then use his personal car.

Sproston said he can't help but wonder whether U-Haul didn't want to rent to him because he's transgender -- although he acknowledged he has rented from U-Haul before as a transgender man.

"That's the only thing I can think of," he said. "I've never been treated that way first of all. I'm not going to brag, but most people love me."

Attorney Madeline Johnson, who helps transgender clients maneuver through the maze of legal documents that need to be changed when you change your gender, said it's common for transgender people to have problems when their legal documents aren't consistent.

Although Sproston legally changed his name after transitioning 13 years ago, he has never changed his gender on his driver's license.

So although Sproston may look like a man his driver's license photo, his gender designation on that same license is still listed as female.

A U-Haul spokesman said Sproston's gender wasn't the problem. The problem was that when Sproston presented his driver's license to U-Haul the gender was blacked out.

When an official document appears altered, it brings the entire document into question, the spokesman said.

Here's the good news: Sproston shouldn't need to worry about this in the future.

What Sproston didn't realize is that Missouri law allows transgender people to change their driver's license gender by simply providing a doctor's note or a note from a therapist. Sproston said he plans to apply for a new license right away.

Sproston said he wishes U-Haul had just told him that was the problem instead of leaving him to wonder. He said if that had happened, he would never have called FOX4.

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