Nurse faces suspension after endorsing safe spaces for biological females

BC College of Nurses and Midwives v. Amy Hamm

Nurse faces suspension after endorsing safe spaces for biological females

BC College of Nurses and Midwives v. Amy Hamm

Updated: March 19, 2024 

Amy Hamm is a Vancouver-area nurse and mother of two. In September 2020, she co-sponsored a billboard that read, “I ♥ JK Rowling,” referring to the British author’s public defence of women’s rights and female-only spaces, such as prisons and crisis centres, restrooms and changerooms, and sporting events. Ms. Hamm told the CBC, “Women’s rights are important, and we need to stand up for them, and it’s not transphobic to do so.”

Some in Vancouver disagreed. It did not take long for a city councillor to condemn the billboard on X, and the advertising company quickly took it down. Despite being up for a mere 30 hours, opponents had already defaced it. A self-proclaimed “social justice activist” complained to the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives that Ms. Hamm was transphobic and that she was unsuited to a career as a nurse. The complaint called for Ms. Hamm to be barred from her current and all future nursing positions. A second, anonymous complaint against Ms. Hamm accused her of “promoting and stoking hate speech towards trans and gender-diverse communities.”

The College took the complaints seriously. The matter was referred to the College’s Inquiry Committee for further investigation, which resulted in a 332-page report on Ms. Hamm’s tweets, articles, and other online activities. The investigation stated, “Between approximately July 2018 and March 2021, you made discriminatory and derogatory statements regarding transgender people, while identifying yourself as a nurse or nurse educator. These statements were made across various online platforms, including but not limited to, podcasts, videos, published writings and social media.” She was charged with unprofessional conduct and spreading disinformation, among other things.

The investigation resulted in more than 20 days of disciplinary hearings starting in 2022:

  • September 21-23, 2022
  • October 24-27, 2022
  • January 10-13, 2023
  • October 23-25, 2023
  • October 31 to November 3, 2023
  • November 6-8, 2024
  • March 18-19, 2024

In the October and November hearings, Ms. Hamm’s legal counsel called on the expert witnesses of Dr. James Cantor, clinical psychologist and internationally recognized expert specializing in research on human sexuality and unusual sexual interest, Linda Blade, former elite heptathlete, coach, credentialed kinesiologist, and champion of women’s sport, and Dr. Kathleen Stock, British philosopher and former professor at the University of Sussex.

Throughout, Ms. Hamm’s legal counsel have argued that there is no evidence that Ms. Hamm engaged in unprofessional misconduct or had breached any standards or bylaws. They argued that her speech was reasonable, sincere, socially valuable, and scientifically supportable. They argued that there is no evidence of “discrimination” or “harm” resulting from her speech, and, most importantly, that the censorship of her speech violates her freedom of expression – protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Professional governing bodies like the College are subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Justice Centre defends the right of health professionals to express their opinions in the public square and argues that everyone is entitled to freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression. Attempting to discipline a nurse for her opinions or commentary on matters of public interest amounts to censorship and should not be encouraged by the College.

The Justice Centre and Ms. Hamm are concerned that activists are weaponizing professional regulatory bodies to intimidate opponents and punish controversial opinions, forcing professionals to undergo stressful and often lengthy disciplinary proceedings. The public should know that regulatory bodies are vulnerable to this abuse, and that there has been a rise in politically motivated complaints against Canadian professionals who express opinions contrary to protected narratives.

Will the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives affirm the freedom of expression of all nurses? Or will the College stifle expression to protect controversial views about biological sex categories? We are awaiting a decision from the College.  

“This case involves worldviews and rights that have come into conflict, and whether an off-duty nurse is allowed to engage in debate about such a politically charged matter in the public square,” stated lawyer Lisa Bildy, co-counsel for Ms. Hamm. “Of course, conflicts are best solved by discussion and debate, not censorship and punishment. The College is tasked with keeping patients safe and regulating the profession in the public interest. But we should be concerned when the regulatory process becomes a tool for use by activists to complain about professionals whose opinions they wish to punish,” Ms. Bildy added.

Share this:

Explore Case Documents

Associated News Releases

Related News