A transgender woman claims she was told by a Jobcentre to dress as a man to find work.
Tina Cook, 54, who began transition last year, used to work in the construction industry but was made redundant 18 months ago.
She began claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance but says that a Jobcentre in Darlington told her last week that she should return to looking like a man to secure interviews.
Ms Cook is currently in the real-life experience stage of her transition, which means she must live and present herself as a woman at all times.
Her treatment may be at risk if she does not comply with this requirement.
She told the Northern Echo: “I have been living in the wrong body for 53 years and have only recently summoned up the courage to be the way I want.
“I have given up so much for this. My family don’t really talk to me and I have no friends.
“How can they expect me to give it up to get a job? I think it is really insensitive.”
Janett Scott, of trans charity the Beaumont Society, told the newspaper: “If you were to ask a homosexual to act straight, or suggest to an ethnic minority that the reason they were not getting work was because of their race, then there would rightly be an outrage.
“This is exactly the same thing.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said that Jobcentre Plus was investigating the complaint.