Single-sex services are essential – and legal

@campervanwoman says health board approach to same-sex wards is rendered meaningless by ‘gaslighting’ gender identity policy

A couple of years ago, my elderly aunt fell and broke her hip. She was in hospital for some time, delirious for much of it and very confused. Around the same time, I became aware of the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde gender reassignment policy.

The policy makes single-sex wards meaningless, allowing trans-identified men to be placed on wards that match their “gender identity”. So far, so horrifying.

But of perhaps even more concern to me was a practice case study, hidden away in an appendix, in which a female patient expresses concern about sharing a ward with a person she correctly perceives as male. The response advised by the case study is:

“The nurse should work to allay the patient’s concerns – it would be appropriate to re-iterate that the ward is indeed female only and that there are no men present. Her duty of care extends to protect patients from harassment and should the woman continue to make demands about the removal of the transgender patient and be vocal in the ward it would be appropriate to remind her of this. Ultimately it may be the complainant who is required to be removed.”

It goes on:

“General appreciation of transgender issues is relatively low within our communities and often this is used as a rationale for behaviour that is essentially transphobic. If a white woman complained to a nurse about sharing a ward with a black patient or a heterosexual male complained about being in a ward with a gay man, we would expect our staff to act in a manor (sic) that deals with the expressed behaviour immediately.”

Ignoring distress of vulnerable

I was utterly appalled. I thought of my poor aunt. She was vulnerable and distressed. The thought that she could be further upset by the presence of a male person on her ward was bad enough.

But learning that NHSGGC said it was good practice to gaslight her by telling her men were women if she complained, and that they would imply she was like a homophobe or racist for objecting, was so upsetting.

I contacted my MSP about it and so began a long back and forth with the health board, with me and my MSP trying to determine why they were not utilising the exceptions in the Equality Act 2010, which allow for single-sex wards.

In fact, single-sex wards are given as a specific example in the Act of when discrimination on the basis of sex is a proportionate means to achieving a legitimate aim.

They would not budge. Quoting the EHRC, they said they would use the exceptions in “very restricted circumstances” but would not give any examples of what those might be. Clearly, the distress of vulnerable, elderly women did not count.

Prioritising male feelings not women’s reality

This is what it comes down to. This is where “transwomen are women” takes us. Policies across a wide range of services now prioritise the feelings of men who identify as trans over the privacy, dignity and safety of my aunt.

And your aunt, your mother, your daughter, you.

My aunt is now in residential care. I still worry about her receiving same-sex care. I worry about my mum and I worry about me in the future. My concerns are what Nicola Sturgeon calls “a cover for transphobia” and Patrick Harvie says are akin to racism.

I will not accept that, and nor should you. It’s why I’m taking every opportunity to ask politicians who are looking for my vote a very simple question:

“What will you do to ensure that women needing intimate care will receive it in a single-sex setting from a person of the same sex?”

Those who cannot or will not answer will not get my vote. If you won’t respect our sex, don’t expect our X.

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