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Female NHS Nurses Ready to Sue Over Sharing Changing Room With a Trans Colleague

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Photo Credits: Samuel Goodwin via Unsplash

Six female NHS nurses are bringing legal action against a North-East NHS Foundation Trust for sexual harassment and sex discrimination after being required to share a single-sex changing room with a transgender colleague who is biologically male.

This is thought to be the first claim of its kind to be brought to the UK. Read on to find out more about the nurses’ complaints and the responses from the NHS and Christian Legal Centre.

Single-Sex Facilities Cause Concern for Female NHS Nurses

The staff changing facilities at the hospital in question are single-sex and comprise an open space containing seats and lockers, but no individual cubicles. The trans changing room policies at the NHS Trust allow a staff member identifying as the opposite gender to use single-sex facilities on that basis, including changing rooms, toilets, and showers.

The transgender colleague in question is biologically male but identifies as female. While that colleague has not had gender reassignment surgery, these policies with access to female changing facilities alongside biological females still stand. This has left several female NHS nurses feeling uncomfortable with the situation. They have said that the transgender colleague often walks around the changing facility wearing only tight boxer shorts, “staring at and initiating conversations” with female nurses as they got changed.

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Allegedly, the transgender colleague was previously taking female hormones but is no longer doing so and is in the process of trying for a baby with their female partner. One nurse, who was sexually abused as a child, has spoken of the shock and horror she felt when the transgender colleague approached her at her locker, stood two metres away, and repeatedly asked whether she would be getting changed yet. Another spoke about how she had been “close to tears” as a result of the situation.

Female NHS Nurses Send Letter to Trust’s Workforce Director

The female NHS nurses first raised their concerns with the HR department in August 2023; however, no action was taken on that occasion. In March 2024, a letter signed by 26 female NHS nurses was sent to North-East England’s NHS Foundation Trust’s director of workforce, in which the situation was clearly explained and various issues raised.

The letter stated that the situation was “inappropriate”, “intimidating”, and “upsetting”, and that it was not “appropriate to have a sexually active biological male sharing [the female] changing facilities”. The nurses have stated that “we obviously expect the trust to treat [the transgender colleague] 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.

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No reply was received from the director of workforce; however, a meeting was arranged with the hospital’s head of HR. During this meeting, the nurses were told that the hospital supported the transgender colleague “150%”, and that the 26 female NHS nurses who had signed the letter to the director of workforce needed to “attend training”, “be educated”, and “broaden their mindset”.

Six female NHS nurses have now brought legal action against the NHS Trust for sex discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Responses to The Legal Action

A spokesperson from the NHS Trust has told the media that the matter is being taken very seriously and that the Trust is in the process of addressing the concerns raised by the nurses whilst complying with legal requirements and best practices. They confirmed that the Trust is committed to “providing an inclusive and respectful work environment for all employees” and “working together with all parties to find a solution that respects the rights and dignity of all individuals while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and fairness.”

The Christian Legal Centre has publicised its intention to support the female NHS nurses’ claim “at every step”. Andrea Williams, the Centre’s chief executive, has voiced concerns about similar issues taking place elsewhere. She has stated: “This NHS Trust is putting a dangerous and discredited transgender ideology ahead of staff and patient safety, not to mention biological reality.”

Speaking about the response from the Trust’s HR department, she added: “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.” To date, the transgender colleague is still permitted to access the female changing facilities.

For more information on sexual harassment cases, read our guide.

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