WORKERS at a vegan restaurant have quit en masse after its owner claimed trans people were being influenced by spirits.

Happy Maki owner Anna MacDonald made the claim after she was asked to provide financial help with a surgery for a trans person, who worked nearby.

At least seven workers at the vegan sushi bar in Pool Valley, Brighton, half the workforce, resigned in protest after the response was made public.

In the email to the trans person, Ms MacDonald said: “I have a lot of compassion for anyone who finds themselves feeling not right in their own skin/bodies.

“From the research I have done, I believe that gender dysphoria is due to spirits and spirit over-cloaking.

“I didn’t believe in spirits until recently so I get that it’s probably a bit out there, but I have been shocked and a bit scared about what I have read and how easy it is for them to control and manipulate people’s thoughts and feelings.”

An online campaign called Unhappy Maki was formed following the email.

A statement said to have been written collectively by “ex-Happy Maki staff and the trans individual involved” has been released.

Referencing Ms MacDonald’s email, it reads: “It wouldn’t feel effective to have Happy Maki or the owner be ‘cancelled’.

“It would be for the best if she can learn and understand why it was a transphobic, damaging thing to say.

“We ask Anna MacDonald to take accountability and

responsibility for her transphobic actions.”

One staff member was sacked after confronting Ms MacDonald for “gross misconduct”. This was in a letter seen by The Argus.

They were accused by Ms MacDonald of taking part in a “violent emotional attack” against her.

It is understood the staff member in question has plans to take legal action.

Speaking to The Argus, the manager said: “My beliefs are my own and until they affect the way we treat people in store or the service we are providing then they are irrelevant.”

In a lengthy statement on the Happy Maki website, she said the email was not “hateful or invalidating”.

“However, I do understand that one could feel invalidated if someone doesn’t share their opinion on a personal experience, or triggers their pain, but that doesn’t make it so,” she added.

“I feel that being transparent and simply giving a brief explanation of why I couldn’t help was not an unethical thing to do.”

Ms MacDonald said the transgender experience “poses some big questions” and “psychologists, geneticists and spiritualists” are “all trying to figure out what is going on”.

She said: “I have done a lot of research into spirits, spirits are just people who have died, no demons, no entities just people.

“They can and do affect everyone in different ways, positively and negatively and to varying degrees and this depends on the existing feelings we have inside of us and how sensitive we are.

“I feel I have seen enough

evidence to know all of this as fact.”