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Decision pending in B.C. nurse's J.K. Rowling billboard case

In 2020, nurse Amy Hamm co-sponsored a Vancouver billboard saying 'I Love JK Rowling.'
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Amy Hamm's activism for women's rights, while holding herself as a nurse, in September 2020, spurred a regulatory complaint against her.

B.C.‘s College of Nurses and Midwives is awaiting the outcome of a hearing into the conduct of a nurse who allegedly made discriminatory comments about transgender people.

The case centred on a Vancouver billboard saying "I ♥ JK Rowling."

Rowling is the author of the successful Harry Potter series. She was called transphobic for her views on gender identity and allowing trans women into women-only spaces.

One of the co-sponsors of that billboard in 2020 was nurse Amy Hamm.

The nursing regulator issued a notice of citation to Hamm on June 29, 2022.

The citation alleged Hamm made discriminatory and derogatory statements regarding transgender people, while identifying herself 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," the citation said.

The college said such conduct is contrary to professional standards and also constitutes unprofessional conduct or a breach of the Health Professions Act or college bylaws.

On March 18, the Canadian Centre for Constitutional Freedoms said it had provided a lawyer for Hamm in the proceedings.

"The prosecution of Amy Hamm over the off-duty expression of her opinions dates back to September 2020, when she co-sponsored a billboard featuring the words, 'I ♥ JK Rowling' — a reference to the famous British author who, in 2019, came to the defence of a British woman whose employment contract was terminated after expressing 'gender critical views,'" the centre said.

The centre said there was no evidence of breach of standards or bylaws to support a finding of unprofessional conduct. It further said her statements did not have a sufficient connection to her status as a nurse to warrant regulatory interference.

"Her speech is reasonable and scientifically supportable,” the centre said. “There is social value to her speech. Her advocacy is conducted in good faith, including to affect political change."

There was no evidence of discrimination or harm in the case, the centre noted.

"A key issue in this case is whether professionals can express criticism of gender identity ideology or other political issues in the public square without being subject to regulatory discipline," Hamm’s lawyer Lisa Bildy said. "We argue that the college has allowed itself and its disciplinary process to become participants in a public and political controversy on which it should not be taking a side."

The case has had multiple hearings in 2022, 2023 and 2024.

"The college is awaiting the decision of the discipline committee, which will be published when it is available," the nurses' college said online.