Female nurses say they were forced to share changing rooms with biological male

Lisa Lockey, Annice Grundy, Tracey Hooper and Bethany Hutchison.(Photo: Christian Legal Centre)

Female nurses are bringing legal action against an NHS Trust after claiming they were made to share changing rooms with a biological male who identifies as a woman.

Supported by the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), the five nurses at Darlington Memorial Hospital say they were told they needed to "broaden their mindset" and be more "inclusive" after they complained. 

They have filed legal action for alleged sexual harassment and sex discrimination against County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, which manages the hospital. 

Current Trust policies permit members of staff identifying as the opposite gender to access single-sex toilets, showers, and changing rooms which do not have private cubicles.

The nurses - Bethany Hutchison, Lisa Lockey, Annice Grundy, Tracey Hooper and Joanne Bradbury - are publicly speaking out following the launch of their landmark legal case. 

They claim that the current arrangement is causing panic attacks among female members of staff, including vulnerable women who have experienced sexual abuse.

Twenty-six nurses wrote to HR bosses at the hospital but say they were told to get "educated" and "compromise". They say they felt "threatened" and "intimidated" at HR meetings about the issue, and fear losing their jobs for speaking out.

They also allege that they were not consulted or given any warning about the policy before it came into effect.

Hutchison, who is a Christian, said that NHS transgender policies are "putting us at risk" but many nurses are "terrified of sticking their heads above the parapet".  

"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," she said.

The nurses are demanding a change in policy "not only at our hospital but across the NHS and wider society".

"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," said Hutchison.

"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."

Lockey said that having to share the changing room with a biological male has made her "feel on edge".

"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," she said. 

"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."

Grundy added, "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?"

CLC chief executive Andrea Williams said that trans ideology was having "real and dangerous consequences".

"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," she said. 

"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."

A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: "The Trust would like to emphasise 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."

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has offered to meet the nurses. 

"I support the nurses and I'm horrified that they've had to resort to legal action. We've got to find a better way through this and I'd be happy to meet them. We've got to find a way through that treats trans people with respect and respects women's safe spaces," he said.

In response, Conservative MP, Miriam Cates, said on X: "We don't need a 'better way through'. We just need to uphold the rules and boundaries - based on the realities of biology and human nature - that all societies throughout all history have upheld. Men are not allowed in women's intimate spaces. That is where it begins and ends."

Harry Potter author JK Rowling commented on X: "The nurses who are suing County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust for letting a trans identified man watch them change. The women and girls being robbed of sporting opportunities. It's endless."