LGBT+ groups have accused new health secretary Sajid Javid of “sexualising young trans people” after he ordered a review of NHS policy regarding trans patients.
Javid called for a review of current guidance on admitting trans patients onto single-sex hospital wards after a deeply misinformed and transphobic report in The Telegraph about “trans sex offenders”.
The article raised “patient safety fears” about “trans sex offenders” being placed alongside women on female hospital wards, but failed to cite any evidence of this having happened.
The report was based on guidance from different NHS hospital trusts that advises trans men and women be placed on the ward corresponding with their gender, regardless of whether they have legal recognition of their gender or have had gender-affirming surgeries. This has been the case since 2009, when guidance on delivering same-sex accommodation in hospital wards was first issued by the NHS.
But the day after the Telegraph article, Sajid Javid tweeted: “All patients, including women and transgender people, should feel comfortable and safe in hospital.
“It’s not wrong to look at whether guidance is right, or how it’s being applied, to reassure everyone. I’ve asked [the department of health and social care] for fresh advice.”
All patients, including women and transgender people, should feel comfortable and safe in hospital.
It's not wrong to look at whether guidance is right, or how it's being applied, to reassure everyone.
I’ve asked @DHSCgovuk for fresh advice.
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) August 3, 2021
LGBT+ charities told the i that they were outraged by Sajid Javid’s “reactionary” and “harmful” statement, accusing him of “sexualising young trans people” by “implying they are a threat” to women’s safety.
Cara English of trans-led charity Gendered Intelligence pointed out that hospital wards that are “inclusive of trans people have been in use for decades with no issue”.
“If there are any genuine safeguarding concerns – which amount to more than a simple dislike or repulsion of sharing a room with a trans person – these can always continue to be addressed per existing legislation and statutory guidance,” she continued.
“It’s worrisome to see the health secretary make such a reactionary decision as to seek new guidance based on, we presume, a single inflammatory article in a broadsheet.
“However, we can only imagine at this point that any new guidance would reiterate the obvious: any sense of concern that individuals may have around being in the same room as a trans person does not, and cannot, trump that trans person’s legal rights, however much some people may believe otherwise.”
Tory minister Sajid Javid’s comments are ‘disappointing’, ‘reactionary’ and ‘harmful’
Research by Stonewall, Europe’s largest LGBT+ charity, has found that one in seven LGBT+ people avoid seeking medical help because they fear discrimination, CEO Nancy Kelley told the i.
“It’s vital that the NHS continues to work towards creating an LGBTQ+ inclusive healthcare system in which all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people are given the care and support that they need,” Kelley said.
She added: “Everyone, including all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, should be able to access safe, dignified and high-quality healthcare when they need it, and this includes being admitted to wards and using facilities which match their gender.”
And a spokesperson for Mermaids, a charity that supports young trans people and their families, said that the comments from Sajid Javid were “disappointing”.
“Sexualising trans adults and young people, implying they are a threat, is harmful to those simply trying to access NHS care with dignity and safety, free from prejudice,” the Mermaids spokesperson said.
“We know the vast majority of people believe in kindness, understanding and respect, and would not wish for trans women and girls to be placed in male-only wards.
“We hope the minister for health will understand the sensitivity of this issue and help trans patients to access healthcare without fear of discrimination.”