While I try my best to ignore the anti-trans narrative in our national newspapers, which is so evident to anyone who wants to see it, sometimes the inherent nonsense that is spouted gets me hot under the collar. The trans women in women’s hospital wards debate is one of these topics, so I thought I would share my thoughts. Full disclosure: I am one of those scary trans women who are causing all the problems because I would not want to be placed on a men’s ward.
Before I begin, I would just like to remind the reader that the NHS is at breaking point to provide services for those that need them. It is not a bed and breakfast opening its doors to every Tom, Dick or Sally who happens to be looking to cosy up for the night. The people entering through the doors of the hospital wards are sick, some gravely so.
Now that we have that in our minds let’s dig a little deeper into this month’s “trans topic of concern”. Trans women and men in the ‘wrong’ wards and the devastating impact that that might have on their cisgender bed fellows.
The subject was covered by the Daily Telegraph and subsequently by the panellists on Loose Women (on January 11th for anyone interested in watching it on catch up). Already irritated by the media storm that was brewing, I waited with bated breath to see how this room full of feminists would grapple with the topic. I was hopeful that they might buck the trend of hysteria and use their privileged position on daytime TV to put forward a reasoned argument for why people shouldn’t be worried – trans rights are human rights after all…
Apparently not. The rage and vitriol I saw directed towards trans women in particular left me cold. We could have been back in Salem, I’m surprised no one suggested we ‘Burn them at the stake!’
I appreciate that this is an incredibly sensitive subject. I am fit and healthy but I am under no illusion that, should some awful health event occur, as well as being stripped of my clothes, my make up and my dignity as I am wheeled hospital gown flapping in the breeze in to my room, I would be left feeling vulnerable.
But unlike other women I also face the very real threat that my rights and my freedom to simply live as I want to live (I have always been trans but have lived openly as a trans woman for the past two years), could be taken away as I am wheeled onto a ward of men, where I simply don’t belong.
It so often seems to be that when the media discusses trans rights, or lack thereof, those taking part in the conversation – who are almost always cis – have a preconceived notion of what a trans person looks like. It’s that ‘guy in a dress’ that you used to see from time to time, wandering around in their Sunday best. An unloved loner, a social pariah and sexual deviant who has no doubt been ostracised by their family.
Newsflash: Trans people – the lucky ones at least – have friends, they have families who love and support them and who feel their pain as the media decides their fate, as the headlines scream from their pages that we all need to BEWARE.
It is believed that between 1 and 2% of the world’s population is trans. That’s as many people as have ginger hair. Yes, that’s right. I’m pretty sure you know a ginger person – stands to reason therefore that you know a trans person.
We are a reflection of society. Many trans people, despite the odds, remain married. They often have loving families and many have regular employment, even successful careers. We are not the shady perverts who stalk the wards of hospitals looking for a cheap thrill that the media – and apparently Gloria Hunniford one of the Loose Women — paint us out to be.
Luckily there was a ray of light in the shape of Stacey Solomon, whose acceptance and voice reflected the younger generation’s views on the matter. Thank goodness.
As more and more people find the courage to openly reveal themselves to be trans, society will have no choice but to change its ways.
The sooner people accept that trans rights are human rights, the sooner these nonsense conversations will stop. There should never be a hierarchy of needs, especially not when it comes to accessing healthcare. Gender variant people deserve the same dignity and respect as any other patient suffering in hospital and that includes being able to convalesce in an environment which matches their gender identity.