Trans NHS worker called ‘tr***y freak’ by hospital staff wins discrimination case

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22: A general view of the entrance of the Northern General Hospital on October 22, 2020 in Sheffield, England.

A trans NHS worker has won a discrimination case after finding a note on her locker that read “get out you tr***y freak”.

An employment tribunal heard various accounts of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust employees using discriminatory language against the woman, including a female colleague saying: “I am sick to death of this bloke with a d**k pretending to be a woman.”

Other co-workers were heard saying “that thing may rape me” and a manager even asked what underwear she was wearing after hearing informal complaints claiming she was naked in the ladies’ changing room.

The trans woman, who remained anonymous, started a non-medical job in 2020 in the Trust’s Northern General Hospital. Staff were informed by a memo that she would be joining and using the female changing rooms, encouraging workers to be respectful to her – a request which, according to accounts from the tribunal report, fell on deaf ears.

Abuse began almost immediately after she joined, and came to a head in July 2020 when she was left in tears after discovering a note on her locker saying “get out you tr***y freak”.

On the same day, she received “deeply offensive and unacceptable” abuse after hearing two female colleagues speaking outside the cubicle, with one saying: “We can drive it out of the department and maybe find a suitable leper colony for it.”

The other said: “I agree we need to do something but what can we do when management are sucking up to that thing.” The colleague replied: “We will find a way.”

An additional note was found on the trans worker’s locker in August 2020 saying “get out tr***y”.

The abuse didn’t stop for several years until the woman resigned from the Trust in 2022. There was even an incident where she was questioned on whether she wore underwear at work or “if she wore it in general” after “concerns” among staff that she was “naked from the waist down” in the changing room.

Employment judge Sara-Jane Davies ruled that the manager quizzed her because she was trans.

“A concern about the woman’s state of undress in the changing rooms was likely to be connected with the fact that she is a transgender woman,” Davies said.

“This was a communal changing room with a shower cubicle. It did not seem to the tribunal likely that there would have been a concern about a cisgender woman in a state of undress while changing in such a changing room.”

Davies then concluded the cisgender female manager provoked the trans woman “because of gender reassignment” and ruled she “would have not asked the questions of a cisgender woman”.

The trans NHS worker won the claim of gender reassignment discrimination in reference to the provocation of management about her underwear but failed to win other claims of harassment, with the tribunal ruling the Trust did support her and dealt with her complaints appropriately. The complaints included harassment related to sex, victimisation and disability.