Nurses forced to share changing room with trans colleague

24 June 2024

Courageous female nurses are speaking publicly following the launch of a landmark legal case against an NHS Trust after they were told they needed to ‘broaden their mindset’ and be 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 working at Darlington Memorial Hospital, which comes under the control of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, have filed legal action against the Trust for sexual harassment and sex discrimination.

Five of the nurses bringing the claim, Bethany Hutchison, Lisa Lockey, Annice Grundy, Tracey Hooper and Joanne Bradbury (image), who work in the Day Surgery Unit at the hospital, decided to be identified and speak publicly after the Trust continued to brush aside their concerns.


They say female nurses at the hospital, including vulnerable women who have experienced sexual abuse and international nurses who cannot get changed in front of men, are having panic attacks before working on wards after having to get undressed in front of a sexually active biological male.

The male operating department practitioner, who openly declares that he does not take female hormones and is trying to get his girlfriend pregnant, says that he ‘identifies’ as a woman and is called ‘Rose.’

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.

The changing room does not have cubicles but staff lockers with a large open space where nurses change before and after working.

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 ‘Rose’ often spends a long-time walking around the female dressing room. On many occasions he wears only tight male boxer underpants, staring at and initiating conversations with female nurses as they are getting changed.

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

After 26 nurses wrote to the Trust raising concerns, HR bosses said that they supported ‘Rose’ and that the nurses needed to get ‘educated’ and ‘compromise’. They said that the mere fact that ‘Rose’ says he identifies as a woman means that he can use the female changing rooms.

After releasing their story anonymously to the media last month, the nurses say ‘Rose’ has continued to use the changing rooms and they believe the Trust hopes the controversy will ‘blow over.’

‘Rose’ has reportedly offered to educate the nurses on the matter.

The nurses are calling for government scrutiny on the NHS changing room policies which they say are putting them and women across the country ‘at risk’.

‘Threatened’ and ‘intimidated’ during HR meetings at the hospital, the nurses say that they fear for their jobs for speaking out, but believe they have no choice but to take a stand.

The group emphasise that this is not a personal attack on anyone and that they are not ‘transphobic’. They want female changing rooms to be protected and a solution and a safe policy for everyone.

“Women need to stop being fearful and use their voices”

Spokesperson for the group, Bethany Hutchison said:

“We want women to be aware that there are transgender policies, particularly in the NHS, that are putting us at risk. This should not be something women even need to think about. However, the extreme transgender ideology that is putting us at risk is so ingrained and has gone so far that we and other women have no choice but to speak out.

“Other nurses are terrified of sticking their heads above the parapet. We are speaking out for us and for those who are too afraid to. This cannot be right, and we want a change in policy, not only at our hospital but across the NHS and wider society.

“The meetings we have had at the hospital have been threatening and intimidating. To say we need educating when staff have multiple degrees was deeply insulting and demonstrates a failure of care towards female staff, some of whom are vulnerable.

“There have been times when I have been alone with ‘Rose’ in the changing rooms and have panicked. Rose looks very masculine, and it is a shock. I and my colleagues should not feel afraid at work. It is disgraceful that nurses are ending up in tears before they have to go and provide emotional support to our patients. It is very difficult to do that if you are already in a state of distress because you are having to get changed in front of a male.

“I am a Christian, but these policies are and will impact every woman from every background.

“We will pursue this matter for as long as it takes to ensure women’s spaces are protected.”

Nurses being put at risk

Lisa Lockey has said that the nurses were not consulted and were given no warning before ‘Rose’ began using the changing rooms.

She described how, when going into the changing room, it made her:

Feel on edge scanning the room before you get changed. It was a shock when I first went in, and I heard a deep male voice. I stopped in my tracks, and I thought: ‘I’ve come into the wrong place’.

“We want safe spaces for everyone to get changed. We don’t want Rose to have to change in the toilets, they need to sort something for him.

“We went into nursing because we care about people, but we have been made to question ourselves and made to feel like bigots when we are no such thing.

“There are lots of trans people who do not pose a threat and we understand that, but with this policy there is no way to decipher who is good and who is bad. This is why we are doing it because there is no policy to protect us, not just in Darlington, but across the country.

“We are aware that transgender activists will probably hate us for what we are doing, but it is not against transgender people, this is about protecting female space.”

“I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder while getting changed”

Tracey Hooper said:

“The Trust are not looking at this issue as a safety aspect for women. As girls and young women, we were brought up to look after ourselves and to be careful. We should be able to feel safe in women’s changing rooms, but now we are being told that we should be fine putting ourselves at risk.

“I don’t want to get changed in front of a biological man and I don’t want to see him getting changed either.”

Another nurse, Annice Grundy said: “For me it is about wanting to feel safe. I don’t want to be panicking and looking over my shoulder while getting ready to work in a hospital caring for patients. We should not have to feel afraid. People say: ‘you are brave’ for speaking out, but why should it be brave to speak out on these issues, why should we even have to.”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said:

This case demonstrates as clear as day that this is an issue of biology not ideology. Once we lose a sense of physical reality all kinds of real and dangerous consequences emerge.

“Legislating to protect and promote ‘gender identity’ places women at risk, which is so strikingly evidenced in this case.

“This case and the Cass Review demonstrate how transgender ideology has led to a public health crisis, not only for vulnerable children and for patients on wards, but now also for NHS staff who are just trying to do their job.

“Rishi Sunak says he knows what a woman is, Keir Starmer says he is committed to protecting single-sex spaces. The reality on the ground, however, is one of complete chaos. Policies have promoted gender ideology over biology creating widespread confusion that cannot be ignored any longer.

“There should be no place in workplaces for transgender ideology that denies science and biological reality, and which is exploited in this way.

“The nurses in this hospital have spoken out with fear and trepidation. Between them they have decades of experience on hospital wards and they are the ones that should be protected and comforted as they simply seek to do the job they love without fear of retribution for speaking up.

“We stand with this dedicated group of professionals and will pursue this matter until common sense prevails and justice is done.”

Further background

Since around August 2023, the female nurses raised serious concerns with management about having to share the changing room with ‘Rose.’

With no action 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 ‘Rose’ and when this has happened ‘Rose’ asked why.”

‘Intimidating and upsetting’

‘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, “‘Rose’ has taken a keen interest in them whilst they do so which has had the effect of exacerbating the upset caused.”

They said that ‘Rose’ has 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 ‘Rose’ 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.

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.’

Faced with no alternative, 8 of the nurses have now filed a claim for a full employment tribunal hearing against the Trust on the grounds that their rights under Article 8 of the ECHR have been breached. The nurses will claim that they have experienced victimisation, indirect discrimination and sexual harassment for which the Trust is liable.

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