Amy Eileen Hamm has been facing a disciplinary hearing in British Columbia, brought by the BC College of Nurses and Midwives, over charges of transphobia. The proceedings have been going on for almost a year. The hearing has gone through witness after witness coming forward to complain that Hamm, who believes in the reality of biological sex, is not fit to be a nurse for that reason alone. As the hearing reccommenced in October, Hamm's defense took center stage, and Hamm gave testimony on her own behalf.
Over two years ago, two complaints were launched against Hamm, claiming that she was transphobic. Hamm had never even met— let alone treated— either of the people who brought the complaints. Yet the BC College of Nurses and Midwives accepted the complaints at face value and notified Hamm that she would be required to sit for a series of hearings which would determine whether or not she would be allowed to keep her nursing license. The committee claimed that, dating from July 2018 to March 2021, Ms. Hamm “made discriminatory and derogatory statements regarding transgender people.”
Hamm is an outspoken advocate for women's rights. She believes fully that men are not women and cannot become women. She has spoken on panels, given talks, published articles in this publication and others, advocating for women. She put up a billboard saying “I *heart* JK Rowling,” who is also an advocate for women's rights. Hamm, as a nurse, understands medicine, biology, and the importance of making sure vulnerable women are treated in settings where those vulnerabilities are not at risk of exploitation.
On Friday, Ms. Hamm was was finally allowed to speak on her own behalf, after multiple day-long sessions in which she was required to remain silent while solicitors argued over her case and took multiple breaks due to procedural hold-ups that ranged from confusion about how to send attachments in emails and to providing adequate online security in order to prevent members of the public from hacking into the online hearings under names like “A. Hitler” or “All Muslims Are Bad” and screaming obscenities and threats at the nurse.
Finally, on Friday, the woman at the center of this Kafkaesque case took the stand.
The case, at its core, is a public scourging of a woman who dared to speak out for the safety of woman and children in spaces that are designated for them such as changing rooms, bathrooms, all female jails and rape shelters.
“So the persons who complained to the BCCNM about my off-duty conduct,” Hamm said when asked to detail what happened and the ensuing effect on her professional life, “one of whom is still anonymous, and the other who I had never met or worked with in my life, they also sent their complaints to my employer and I have since found out that other anonymous complainants have made similar complaints to my employer about about the advocacy that I do for women and children on my off duty time. So it's 100 percent about what I do outside of work. There's been nothing about my work performance—it is purely outside of work. And so I am aware that these complaints have come in, and I have spoken to HR about them, but no I have not received any sort of discipline.”
“I've always kept my private life and my political views and private views very separate from my work life,” she said. “I never talk politics at work. And I actually found it distressing that, in this process, I lost the ability to do that. I still don't want to talk about any of these things at work, but now, people are aware of what's going on and I often get approached and I don't and I still refrain. I don't want to talk about these things at when I'm at work. I'm there to do my job and to follow the policies of the organization. Whether or not I agree with certain policies, I limit my advocacy in terms of changing things to when I'm outside of work. I'm a single mother, I'm taking care of two young boys. It would be devastating to me to lose a career that I love and that I've worked hard in for over a decade. And I simply want to continue working and just being professional at work and while continuing to do this advocacy that I strongly believe in, in my spare time. To me, there's no crossover between my professional and my personal lives.”
Questioned by her solicitor on her understanding of trans issues within her workplace, Ms. Hamm testified, “I take every opportunity that I can to do this sort of education and, for instance, I've taken every trans care BC course available to me on providing care for trans or gender non conforming people. I've taken the entire trans care BC summer series for which I think there were six different courses.
“I think four of the six classes that they offered were specifically about trans issues, including children who are identifying as trans. So I've taken all of that. I've done multiple grand rounds, whether in medicine or psychiatry, that pertain to providing care for trans people. I also do diversity equity inclusion training, indigenous cultural safety training. That's something that is one of my favorite parts of my job is being able to do all of this continued learning and in addition to myself doing that I'm sharing it with my staff and encouraging my staff to attend this as well.”
With a pristine record of over ten years of nursing, it is hard to understand how Ms. Hamm finds herself in this position. Friday afternoon her solicitor began to unpack how this story unfolded when she asked Ms. Hamm.
“You've been described as an advocate for women and girls sex based rights. So before we talk about your advocacy, what do you mean by sex based rights?” The solicitor asked.
“Sure, sex based rights would be like freedoms or entitlements to women on the basis of their being, biologically female,” Hamm answered. “Historically, women's oppression around the world is on the basis of their biological sex and not on the fact that they identify as females and so these rights that we have on the basis of our sex serve the purpose of maintaining our privacy, our dignity, our safety, and then if you look at something like sports, fairness is also a huge issue.”
Hamm described the importance of these issues by explaining that biological women deserve “safety from male violence, and we also deserve privacy and dignity spaces that are free from males that we can use for ourselves and to bring our children into and also not have to worry about male bodied persons being in there. Then if you go to sports, it's the issue that there are, on average, massive differences biologically between males and females. And it's neither safe nor fair for female athletes who have spent their entire lives training for a sport to have to compete against biological males that they frankly don't stand a chance against.”
Her lawyer asked, “Are there other considerations in terms of sort of the blurring of sex with gender that you'd be concerned about from beyond what you just mentioned?”
Hamm delivered an answer which horrified and brought to light the reality of exactly why Amy Hamm refuses to bend to the strongarming of the disciplinary board.
She answered, “I have multiple concerns. After Bill C16 passed and gender identity was enshrined into the Canadian Human Rights Code it created a clash with women's sex based rights. And what's resulted from that is self ID policies that are instituted almost everywhere in Canada. So a male can just self identify as a female and gain access to what were previously sex segregated spaces that were for women's privacy, dignity and safety. So this includes rape shelters and women's prisons.
“As an example, something that I find extremely disturbing is how there are,” she went on, “in Canada, male rapists and pedophiles housed in Canadian women's prisons. One such person, who now goes by ‘Tara D'Souza', but while identifying as a male had drowned a 3-year-old child, and later went on to rape a 3-month-old infant who required reconstructive surgery.
“After being in jail, this person identified as a female and is currently housed in a prison in BC that has a mother and baby program. So I find it really unacceptable that incarcerated women in Canada, who I think are the most vulnerable, marginalized population in our country, and again, this is a population that is disproportionately indigenous, and they've already had a lot of their freedoms and rights taken away on account of being in prison and now they are literally caged with rapists and pedophiles.”
Hamm went on to deliver more testimony that put the situation into perspective and truly solidified her concerns. She continued, “That's not the only example. There's another pedophile. housed in a prison, where women can have their children, named Madeline Harkes. And three years ago, a Toronto nurse named Rhoderie Estrada, who had two daughters, her husband was working a night shift and two men came into her house in the night and raped and murdered her while her daughters were asleep down the hall.”
As Hamm testified about this, her voice became noticeably shaky. She continued, “When her husband came home in the morning, she was unrecognizable. And so this went to trial and both of the murderers were sentenced to life in prison. But unbeknownst to the jury, one of the murderers, shortly after being arrested, began identifying as a woman and has since applied to the correction services of Canada to serve out the remainder of his sentence in a female prison. So I don't know. This isn't information that the correction services of Canada readily releases. But with self identification policies, it's very possible that this person who brutally murdered a mother, while her two daughters slept down the hallway and raped her could serve a life sentence with women.”
Asked how this made her feel, Hamm responded, “It makes me extremely, extremely angry. And as though people don't seem to care what's happening to these women. Another example is in rape shelters.
“Canada right now only has one rape shelter where biological males are not allowed to self identify their way into the shelter. This is Vancouver Rape Relief shelter. And they had to spend enormous amounts of money going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to win the right, which they did, to maintain their shelter as a sex segregated space. And since then, there have been constant campaigns to have them shut down. Trans activists have, in red paint, you know, written ‘TERF' and other slurs on their building. They've had dead rats nailed to their building, because they don't admit biological males. And the trans activists in Vancouver ran a campaign to have the city of Vancouver remove their city funding from this rape shelter which the city of Vancouver actually did.”
“The issue isn't about trans people,” Ham said. “The issue is about having sex-segregated spaces that don't have male bodies. Women have reason to fear male violence, and that is the reason that we got sex-segregated spaces in the first place. And I can certainly sympathize with trans women who appear female. I can sympathize that they might be afraid of using male washrooms or other spaces as well. The reason that they would fear that is because, again, male violence.
“But I don't believe that it should be incumbent upon women to accept males into our sex segregated spaces to protect this particular group of biological males from other biological males. I would support third spaces, that sort of thing. But I strongly believe that in order for women, like I said, to preserve our privacy, our dignity and most importantly our safety, we deserve and are entitled to sex segregated spaces.”
Hamm will continue testifying this week.