Hospitals in the United Kingdom are allowing male patients to stay in women-only wards so long as they identify as female — a policy that has angered many women’s rights activists and patients.
An investigation by The Daily Telegraph has revealed that none of the National Health Service trusts in England require patients to have already begun the process of their physical sex transition in order to stay in women-only hospital wards.
Such a policy exists despite the Department of Health’s rules stating that “men and women should not have to share sleeping accommodation or toilet/bathroom facilities.”
However, the rule has exceptions in cases “where it is in the overall best interests of the patient or reflects the patient’s choice.”
The Daily Telegraph reports that the NHS is not able to track how many trans-identified patients are accommodated in wards meant for the opposite biological sex because the patients are recorded in the system under their preferred gender identity, not their actual biological sex.
According to the report, the staff at one hospital were told that they need to consult with a trans-identified patient before making any decisions about patient placement should a female victim of sexual assault object to sharing facilities with a biological man.
One nurse who works for a hospital in a major U.K. city told the newspaper that there was a report at her hospital of a biologically male trans-identified woman becoming sexually aroused while being held in a female-only ward.
“Particularly around medics, the patient would become lewd and rub their penis through their nightclothes,” the nurse explained. “This person was virtually masturbating in front of us all.”
The nurse said there were complaints from other patients who felt unsafe by the presence of the masturbating trans-identified patient.
“But they were told ... that the patient was a woman and had a right to be there,’” the nurse said.
The nurse explained that the only thing the hospital staff could do was to offer the services of a psychiatric nurse.
The report also explains that there is a lack of NHS “equality impact assessments” being done to examine how the transgender policy is impacting other patients (such as women), while assessments obtained by The Daily Telegraph appear only to have investigated the impact the policy is having on trans-identified patients.
Officials at the West Suffolk NHS Trust told The Daily Telegraph that a trans-identified patient’s right to be in a single-sex environment consistent with their preferred gender identity “supersedes objections raised by other patients.”
“If you aren’t even considering other groups in your equality impact assessments, your policy cannot be lawful,” immigration and public law attorney Amanda Jones of Great James Street Chambers told the newspaper.
Nicola Williams, a research scientist and a campaigner for the women’s rights group Fair Play for Women, told the Telegraph that the “state is sacrificing the needs of the majority at their most vulnerable.”
“We have sex-segregated facilities for a reason and I’m horrified those rights — for both sexes — have been removed without any consultation,” she said.
Philippa Molloy, a 42-year-old with bipolar disorder that she says leaves her thinking that men are conspiring to kill her, opened up in an interview with the Lancaster Guardian about how she was locked in a women’s psychiatric ward with an “extremely male-bodied” trans-identified patient.
Molloy said she was terrified because she suffered a relapse in her condition. She claims that when she raised concerns with hospital staff, her concerns were not taken seriously.
“Part of my psychosis was that I was convinced I was being followed by men’s rights activists,” Molloy said. “It sounds ridiculous, but that was it.’
She said she felt that “the rights of that trans person to feel safe” were “put above” her rights to “feel safe as a natural woman.”
Conservative member of Parliament David Davies also spoke out about the policy.
“It’s quite right that a Conservative government made a commitment to end mixed sex wards,” he was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraphy. “But people with male bodies should be on male wards.”
A spokesperson for NHS Improvement explained that “decisions should be made in the best interests of all patients and based on the circumstances presented to NHS staff.”
Transgender Trend, a U.K. coalition of parents critical of the trend to diagnose gender non-conforming children as transgender, said in a tweet that the NHS is no longer “safeguarding children's privacy in hospital wards.”
London Assembly member David Kurten also took to Twitter to respond to the report.
“Hospital wards are no place to push fringe transgender ideology which risks the safety and well-being of sick patients,” Kurten wrote. “If a person has male anatomy and chromosomes they are a man, and they should not be placed in women's wards.”