NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde withdraws trans advice for female-only wards The Times 28.12.20

The original article is here.

Hospital guidance that urged nurses to chastise patients who object to sharing a female ward with trans women has been shelved following a backlash from feminist groups.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde issued guidance this year to staff which equated women who express concern about sleeping next to trans patients to people harbouring racial prejudice. The guidance was reviewed and the health board has confirmed that it has been shelved indefinitely.

Nurses are now advised to sort out disputes using their own judgment and to speak to management if they cannot be resolved.

A spokeswoman for the health board said: “We are not aware of any issues in our hospitals since we announced our review of our trans policy. If any patients have concerns about their accommodation while in hospital, this should be raised with NHSGGC staff who can manage this locally in consultation with the patient, and if necessary escalate to management.”

Joan McAlpine, the SNP MSP who is a critic of gender recognition reforms, complained in March to Shirley-Anne Somerville, the social security secretary, that women who were“distressed at the presence of a male-bodied trans-identified person in the next bed” should not be compared to “a white woman complaining about a black patient being in the next bed”.

The Equality Act allows authorities to restrict some services to women only, for example rape crisis centres where women may feel uncomfortable speaking to counsellors who appear male.

The decision to shelve the guidance was welcomed by groups that believe trans women should not be afforded full women’s rights.

Rhona Hotchkiss, of the LGB Alliance, said: “We’re delighted to hear that the NHS board has decided to return to the situation that held until very recently.

“The Equality Act makes it abundantly clear that sex is a protected characteristic and healthcare is one of the many areas in which women can expect their rights to single sex spaces and single sex provision to be upheld.

“The insidious way changes to this were introduced without public debate raises serious questions about the way certain LGBT lobby groups have been providing misleading advice to the NHS and other institutions.

“No woman should ever be chastised for asking or demanding to be seen by a woman carer or nurse and the Equality Act makes clear woman in this case means woman as understood by the general public: a biological female.”

Susan Smith, of For Women Scotland, said: “While we welcome the withdrawal of the guidance, we believe there needs to be consistency and clarity. Where there is an expectation of single sex wards, bedded areas or changing rooms, women’s right to safety, dignity, and privacy must be upheld. It should not fall on patients to complain or on individual staff to raise concerns and seek resolution.

“There will have to be hard conversations about how this can be managed in order to meet the needs of all patients.”

The Scottish Trans Alliance, a trans rights lobby group, failed to respond to a request for comment.

Stonewall, which campaigns for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, said: “Just like anyone seeking care, trans people must be able to access the healthcare they need in a timely and appropriate way, and we urge all healthcare services to provide training and guidance to equip staff to support all LGBT people.”

Separately, transgender policies in Scottish prisons will be debated in a “series of conversations” by the Scottish Prison Service in the new year.

There is growing pressure on the service to review its policy on where transgender prisoners should be placed after concerns about trans women in the female estate were first raised in December 2018. A spokesman for the service, which has about 8,200 prisoners in 15 jails, said its gender recognition policy, which had generated “a lot of heat, if not much light”, was being reviewed.

The conversations “will allow all the concerns around transgender prisoners and where they should be imprisoned to be aired fully, including listening to women prisoners, transgender prisoners and SPS staff,” he said.

Currently the SPS policy means that transgender prisoners do not have to hold a gender recognition certificate to be placed in either male or female jails as they request and after an assessment. Some women’s groups claim that such a policy is not legal.


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