Press Release

Nurses take NHS Trust to court over ‘harassment’ by semi-naked ‘transgender’ colleague in female changing rooms

26 May 2024         Issued by: Christian Concern

Female nurses working at an NHS hospital were told by the Head of HR they needed to be ‘broaden their mindset’ , be more ‘educated’ and more ‘inclusive’, after asking not to share a changing room with a biological male identifying as a woman.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre, a group of nurses has now launched legal action against the NHS Foundation Trust for sexual harassment and sex discrimination.

The case is believed to be unprecedented and the first of its kind.

The Trust’s policies permit any member of staff to ‘identify’ in the opposite gender and to access single-sex changing rooms, toilets or showers on that basis.

Since around August 2023, the female nurses raised serious concerns with the management about having to share the changing room with a biologically male nurse who identifies as a woman and uses a very feminine female name. That individual told colleagues that he had been taking female hormones but then stopped doing so and was trying to get his girlfriend pregnant.

The changing room does not have cubicles but staff lockers with a large open space where nurses change before and after working, for example, in departments such as the Intensive Care Unit. The changing room in question clicks shut and has a lock system that makes it slow to get in and out of.

The nurses say that their ‘transgender’ colleague often spends a long time walking around the female dressing room, on many occasions wearing only tight male boxer underpants, staring at and initiating conversations with female nurses as they are getting changed.

One nurse, who has experienced sexual abuse as a child, has spoken of her shock and horror when she was approached by that individual in the dressing room, having never spoken to him before, semi-naked and with genitalia visible, and asked her three times: ‘Are you not getting changed yet?’.

Concerns were first raised on the wards and with HR in August 2023, but no action was taken. In March 2024, a letter was signed by 26 nurses and sent to the Director of Workforce at the NHS Foundation Trust.

The letter said that they were: ‘concerned about the use of the women’s changing facilities at our hospital by a fellow member of staff.”

It said that ‘there has been occasions when some of us have refused to change in front of [‘the transgender colleague’] and when this has happened [they] asked why.

‘This has created a situation that we consider inappropriate and that we have found intimidating and upsetting’, they said.

‘On the occasions when colleagues have proceeded to change, which generally involves stripping down to underwear,’ they continued, ‘the man’ has taken a keen interest in them whilst they do so which has had the effect of exacerbating the upset caused.’

They said that this individual had made no secret of the fact that they had stopped taking female hormones and was trying to get their girlfriend pregnant.

Due to this the nurses said they did not believe it ‘appropriate to have a sexually active biological male sharing our changing facilities.’

Recognising that the Trust has a duty to support transgender staff they added, however, that that is ‘not absolute.’

The nurses said that: ‘We obviously expect the Trust to treat them with respect and dignity, but as the policy clearly states, that does not absolve the Trust of its duty to those of us who find the current situation intolerable.’

The letter concluded with the nurses saying that if they have to get changed elsewhere because of the man’s presence in the changing rooms, it has ‘implications for the operational efficiency of our department, which is something none of us wants to see. The simple solution to avoid any unnecessary delays will be for [the man] to get changed elsewhere.’

‘You need to be re-educated and be more inclusive’

The nurses received no reply.

However, at an impromptu meeting organised by the hospital’s Head of HR, one of the nurses was told that:

• The hospital supports [the transgender colleague] “150%”.

• The staff that signed the letter need to be educated and to attend training.

• The staff need to broaden their mindset.

• The staff need to be more inclusive.

• The staff need to compromise.

It is understood that the transgender colleague has offered to educate them.

Outraged nurses, who have degrees and Masters degrees, said that they did not need ‘education’ and that they were ‘disgusted’ and ‘insulted’ by the response.

Demanding to know why they had not been consulted, they said that they are not ‘bigots’ and legally have the right to hold and express gender critical beliefs.

Another nurse said they were ‘flabbergasted’ that the NHS does not have anything in place to properly deal with these scenarios.

A senior member of staff at the hospital asked the nurses: ‘So I can understand, why don’t you feel safe?’

A nurse responded: ‘We don’t feel safe because…we strip down to our underwear and [the transgender colleague] doesn’t just stay by his locker. He walks around the changing room in his boxer shorts, and you can see his male genitalia flapping about.’

‘I was terrified, I could not move’

One nurse, ‘Jenny’, who does not wish to be identified, has shared that she was abused as a child and suffers from PTSD.

She said that: “I had to go past his locker to get to mine. I was rummaging in my bag trying to find my lanyard and keys for the locker when a man’s voice behind me said: ‘Are you not getting changed yet?’ I found my keys and opened my locker, and I was asked again: ‘Are you not getting changed yet?’

“I said ‘no’. I continued to rummage in my locker, but I began to forget what I was looking for as all I could think about was ‘why is this man asking me if I am getting changed?’ I wondered if he was trying to provoke a reaction. He was stood there, two metres away from me with a scrub top on with tight black boxer shorts with holes in them.

“He was not getting changed he was just looking over his shoulder watching me. There was nobody else present.

“I got my phone out, sat down on one of the benches and started messaging my husband. As I was typing, he said again: ‘Are you not getting changed yet?’ This had been said three times in five minutes. Flight or fight mode kicked in, but I felt glued to my seat, I could not move. My hands started to sweat. I was petrified and felt sick and began hyperventilating. At this stage I did not know who he was, all I knew was there was a man watching me and asking me why I was not getting undressed.

“I was not going to get undressed, but I could not move. I was close to tears. I started playing a game on my phone to distract myself, but then I heard the click of the changing room door. I looked up and he was gone. I was terrified that he was going to do something to me.”

‘I thought: ‘Wow, this is wrong’

Another experienced nurse, Nicola, not her real name, said:

“I had not been made aware that this transgender person was changing in our changing room. I came in to get changed one day and he was just there getting changed. I was like ‘wow, is that a man?’ I was quite shocked and thought ‘maybe I’m wrong.’ I proceeded to get changed and I had to take my outdoor clothes off literally to my underwear. There are no cubicles, it is out in the open, but up until this point there was no problem, as we were all ladies getting changed together.

“Out of the corner of my eye I saw him getting changed down to his boxers. He proceeded to take his time and wander about. You could clearly see he had male parts. He looked like a man. I didn’t feel threatened, but I thought ‘wow, this is wrong, this is a female changing room.’ I got changed and I went out and made other nurses aware. When you get undressed you can feel his eyes on you, which isn’t very nice. He looks like a male, talks like a male and dresses like a male.

“I heard that he is trying to get his partner pregnant who is female.”

Claire, not her real name, said:

“He walked into the changing room in full male attire, and I was very shocked. I thought ‘oh my goodness there is a man in the changing room’ and I felt extremely awkward.

“A huge number of us have been appalled that female changing rooms are being used by a male. What has been happening has caused a vast amount of distress.

“We work with a whole load of international nurses, some of whom have different cultural and religious beliefs, who are only allowed to strip down in front of their husbands.

“They’ve found this extremely difficult and they don’t really want to come forward because they’re frightened they’re going to lose their jobs.

“One international nurse has told me that she wears a vest and uniform underneath her uniform, which is boiling for her, but it’s to prevent this biological male from seeing things that she doesn’t want him to see.

“We do not consider it appropriate to have a sexually active biological male sharing our gender facilities. There are women in the changing facilities who have gone through traumatic experiences in their lives. It is wrong that they have to be subjected to this because of a loophole in an NHS policy which gives a man the right to enter female changing rooms just because they have given themselves a female name.

“We are fearful of a backlash from the NHS over the stand we are taking, but we believe we have no choice but to pursue this matter. Many of us have children and daughters and we do not want them to grow up in a society where these risks are seen as normal. If we do not speak out, then this just adds to the climate of fear and real concerns being silenced.

“What has happened highlights a serious risk in the Trust’s and wider NHS policy and it must be changed urgently.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “This NHS Trust is putting a dangerous and discredited transgender ideology ahead of staff and patient safety, not to mention biological reality.

“We are concerned that what the nurses here are experiencing is just the tip of the iceberg. How many more people across the NHS, in other professions and in public places are having to go through similar experiences?

“For nearly a year, HR has ignored the concerns of nurses who feel vulnerable and even afraid of a man, who is a man but says he is woman changing in a female only changing room.

“Telling educated, qualified and caring women that they need to be ‘re-educated’ and be more ‘inclusive’ for raising concerns about what is happening is deeply troubling.

“Instead of giving in to the climate of fear surrounding speaking out against transgender ideology, these nurses are now refusing to be silenced and are taking a courageous stand. We will support them at every step.”

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