Home Health “We need to be re-educated”: this is how a group of National Health Service (NHS) nurses reacted when they complained that a transgender colleague, who shared the women’s locker room, was staring at them while they undressed

“We need to be re-educated”: this is how a group of National Health Service (NHS) nurses reacted when they complained that a transgender colleague, who shared the women’s locker room, was staring at them while they undressed

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Tracey Hooper, Annice Grundy, Lisa Lockey and Bethany Hutchinson have bravely spoken out

When a group of NHS nurses complained to hospital bosses about a trans colleague’s “intimidating” behavior in their shared changing room, they may have hoped for at least a sympathetic hearing.

But officials not only dismissed the concerns of long-serving staff members, they allegedly told nurses they needed to “educate themselves” and broaden their minds.

It was, the nurses say, an “offensive” response to their legitimate complaints that their colleague’s presence was “degrading and humiliating.” They also told human resources that the 26-year-old stared at her breasts while they undressed and she stayed “longer than necessary” in her locker room.

Nurses say their colleague, who is understood not to have undergone gender reassignment surgery, had told co-workers at Darlington Memorial Hospital that they had stopped taking cross-sex hormones because they were trying to get their son pregnant. girlfriend and is therefore “a sexually active biological woman.” male’.

Now, after being dissatisfied with bosses’ response, eight of the nurses are launching an unprecedented employment tribunal against the NHS Trust that employs them, alleging harassment, indirect discrimination, victimization and human rights breaches.

Today, four of them have bravely decided to speak to the Mail to describe how they are taking legal action to defend women’s rights.

Bethany Hutchison, 34, a surgical nurse, said: “It’s embarrassing that nurses end up crying before their shifts. We’re there to be an emotional support for patients who are about to have surgery, and it’s very difficult. Do it if you are in a state of distress about having to change in front of a man.

‘I think women need to stop being afraid of this and use their voices. “We’ve fought for women’s rights for a long time, but we’ve gone backwards and I’m not ready to see that.”

Their legal claim, seen by the Mail, says that since August 2023 they have repeatedly raised concerns with hospital managers about the trans nurse, called Rose, who has been given access to the women’s locker room. The nurses allege that Rose “stares at her female colleagues, particularly at her breast area, while they are changing.”

A formal complaint, signed by 26 nurses, was sent to bosses at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust in April. But a human resources manager allegedly dismissed their concerns, saying nurses needed to “broaden their mindset,” be “more inclusive” and “get educated.”

Mrs Hutchison said: “It’s very offensive to us because we’re all educated, we need a degree to do this job and some of us have multiple degrees.” We have very smart people in our neighborhood, so it was disgusting to be told something like that.

“We are not transphobic or afraid of trans people; we believe they need their own changing space that is safe for them.”

Tracey Hooper, Annice Grundy, Lisa Lockey and Bethany Hutchinson have bravely spoken out

Lisa Lockey, 51, another complainant, said: ‘We take in transgender patients through our unit and we look after them. We’re nurses, we care about people, that’s our job, so it’s an insult that we’ve been made to feel bigoted.’

The nurses want hospital bosses to find an alternative room for Rose to change into. NHS national policy allows its staff to identify as the gender of their choice and access appropriate differentiated facilities, but they say “alternative arrangements must be provided” if this is considered inappropriate.

Some of the nurses who took legal action want to remain anonymous, but four of them decided to come forward last night.

Ms Lockey said: “We’ve all been very uncomfortable with (breaking the news). We know there are a lot of trans activists who will probably hate us for what we’re doing. But it’s not against trans people. It’s about protecting the space of a woman. We don’t want to hurt anyone, we want a safe policy.’

Tracey Hooper, 45, another plaintiff, said sharing a locker room with Rose “makes me feel nervous,” adding: “You scan the locker room before you start undressing.” It is very uncomfortable. I don’t want to change myself in front of a biological man, and I don’t want to see him change either.

‘We don’t ask him to go to the men’s locker room either, something has to be provided for him. Everyone should receive the necessary care to make them feel comfortable and safe.’

As an infection control measure, nurses are required to change clothes in the hospital before and after their shift. It is claimed that many female staff now use toilet cubicles rather than changing rooms to avoid Rose.

A fourth complainant, Annice Grundy, 54, said: “I’m not changing in that locker room anymore; I’ve found another place to change, which I don’t think I should do.”

“My problem, now that I know the Trust’s policy, is that anyone can be there; anyone who identifies as a woman can wear that locker room.”

Last month, nurses told this newspaper how uncomfortable Rose made them feel in the dressing room. One said: “We don’t feel safe because we stay in our underwear and Rose doesn’t stay by her locker.” She walks around in her underwear.

Another nurse said she was “close to tears” during one incident. She said: ‘I was rummaging through my bag trying to find my lanyard and locker keys when a man’s voice behind me said, “Aren’t you going to change yet?”

The woman, who was sexually abused as a child, has post-traumatic stress disorder and struggles to be alone with men, added: “He was there, two meters from me, in a scrub top and tight black boxers with holes in them. in them and asked (again) if I was changing yet… I felt glued to my seat, I couldn’t move. My hands started to sweat. I became petrified, I felt sick and I started hyperventilating.

Today, nurses also say they are concerned about the impact on hospital staff from abroad and from different religious backgrounds, who had begun to wear leggings and blouses under their uniforms to prevent their bodies from being seen, despite the discomfort this causes during the job.

Mrs Lockey said: “It made me very angry.” “They have come here to help the NHS and our Trust has not treated them fairly.”

The NHS has long come under fire for its approach to single-sex spaces, particularly single-sex wards.

Under current NHS England guidelines, trans people can be accommodated on a ward that is “in line with their declared gender identity” and this “is not dependent on having a gender recognition certificate or a legal name change.” . However, planned changes to the NHS Constitution will mean that a trans woman will not be placed on a women-only ward.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has also published guidance saying single-sex spaces could exclude transgender people if they were considered a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate objective” such as privacy or security.

But cases like that of the Darlington nurses show how unclear some employers are about how to handle self-identification guidelines.

Andrea Williams, executive director of the Christian Legal Centre, which supports the nurses’ claim, said: “This case demonstrates as clear as day that this is a question of biology, not ideology.” Once we lose our sense of physical reality, all kinds of real and dangerous consequences arise.

Darlington Memorial Hospital...the local NHS trust says the allegations are being investigated

Darlington Memorial Hospital…the local NHS trust says the allegations are being investigated

‘Legislating to protect and promote “gender identity” puts women at risk, which is so strikingly evident in this case.

‘There should be no place in the workplace for transgender ideology that denies science and biological reality and is exploited in this way.

‘The nurses at this hospital have spoken with fear and trepidation. Between them they have decades of experience on hospital wards, and they are the ones who must be protected and comforted as they simply seek to do the work they love without fear of retaliation for speaking out. “We stand with this dedicated group of professionals and will continue to pursue this matter until common sense prevails and justice is served.”

A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: “The Trust would like to emphasize that at this stage the claims being made are allegations which need to be fully investigated and reviewed.”

‘The Trust has initiated this through its internal processes and this work continues. However, as the allegations are now also subject to active legal action, it would not be appropriate for the Trust to comment further at this stage.’

Rose was approached for comment but did not respond.

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