This transphobe was on a roll.
A transgender law graduate representing themselves has won a claim for discrimination against the NHS after being quizzed by a manager about undressing at work.
'V', a transwoman, was employed as a catering assistant by the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust after spending several years out of employment due to anxiety over transitioning gender.
Before V started work, the Trust's staff were told by managers that V would be using female changing rooms, and that V did not want questions or comments about it. Bosses followed up with a reminder that the Trust celebrated diversity and would take decisive action if people were subjected to discrimination.
Staff were given extra training sessions dedicated to the issue by Sally Edwards, the Trust's head of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Some employees "expressed concerns, mainly female members of staff worried about sharing the ladies changing room with a transgender woman", but Edwards told them there was "no evidence of transgender women being a threat or causing any issues in the workplace".
The tribunal praised Edwards' "well devised and well delivered" training as well as her "empathy", but V complained in court that the sessions did not go far enough, because Edwards failed to include statistics about transgender hate crime, or the fact that the Trust was a Stonewall Diversity Champion.
A week after beginning the job, V arrived at work "crying and shaking" because of "hate crime" outside the workplace, only to allegedly find a note in the female changing room that said, "Get out you tranny freak", which V destroyed before showing to anyone.
Later that day V was in a female cubicle and allegedly overheard a "posh", "English", and "arrogant" woman saying to another English woman, "I am sick to death of this bloke with a dick pretending to be a woman, who doesn’t even dress like a girl and has facial hair, that thing may rape me and we can drive it out of the department and maybe find a suitable leper colony for it". V said the other woman replied, "I agree but we need to do something but what can we do when management are sucking up to that thing", to which the first voice responded, "We will find a way".
V named two women as the culprits, both of whom denied the claims. When one of them began testifying at the tribunal it became apparent she was not a posh English woman, but came from the Philippines and spoke in heavily accented, broken English, at which point V withdrew the allegation after a query from the Employment Judge.
A few days after the changing room incident, V reported finding a second transphobic note, this time written on a sanitary disposal bag, which said, "GET OUT TRANNY". When a staff member asked for a handwriting sample, V resigned, telling the Trust "she was shocked and surprised that she had been accused of writing the message herself".
The tribunal said V "had a tendency to misremember the detail of events" and gave evidence which was "clearly inconsistent". However, because the Trust had already accepted V's account, "although nobody provided any corroborating evidence", the tribunal said it "had no reason to doubt" V's version of events.
The tribunal said that in the law graduate's large number of discrimination claims, "not only does she complain about the original incidents, but also about very many of the things that happened to her afterwards, including the management of her absences and the conduct of her grievances". In an example, it said V claimed that managers tried to impose a return to full time work after one of the incidents, when the Trust actually granted three days of compassionate leave.
Although V's other claims failed, the tribunal found that a catering manager, Mrs Hawkshaw, did discriminate against V when she tried to question V about removing underwear at work.
V had asked a Catering Assistant, Mrs Townsend, for permission to go home as V felt hot, sweaty and ill. “At that point the Claimant told her she was so hot she had taken her underwear off, and made a wringing motion with her hands”, said the tribunal.
Townsend went to see Hawkshaw because she did not have the authority to allow V to go home, and recounted the conversation. Hawkshaw had also been informed that V had been in the female changing room "naked from the waist down".
The tribunal said that in a meeting with V to discuss absences and other incidents, Hawkshaw did not mention the changing room incident specifically, but asked V "personal and embarrassing questions" about removing underwear at work on a general basis. It said she only did so because of "a concern that the Claimant as a transgender woman might be in a state of undress in the female changing room", and it ruled that Hawkshaw "would not have asked the questions of a cisgender woman". It therefore found in favour of V.
Sex Matters, an organisation which campaigns to promote clarity about sex in public policy and law, said the tribunal's judgment was flawed on the basis that it should have asked if it would have been normal for Hawkshaw to question a male employee about undressing in the female changing room, not whether it would have been normal to question a female. The answer would have been "yes", said the organisation, because, "It is not normal to allow men to remove their underwear in women’s changing rooms (or even to be there). But managers well above Mrs Hawkshaw’s pay-grade had made the decision that V would use this space".
Stonewall's media team was unable to comment on V's victory, saying, "We don't have the capacity to comment on this at the moment".