From Daily Mail: A woman who asked to be seen by a female nurse when she went for a smear test was ’embarrassed’ when she was allocated a person with ‘stubble and a beard’.
Upon being called in for the procedure (pap smear), the patient said she was ‘distressed’ to discover that the nurse was biologically male. When she pointed out the mistake, the nurse responded that their gender was not male and that they were transsexual.
In the end, the patient decided not to go ahead with the intimate procedure and complained to the NHS.
She told The Sunday Times that it was ‘weird where somebody says to you “my gender is not male” and you think: “well, what does that even mean? You’re clearly a man!”‘
The patient described the nurse as having an ‘obviously male appearance…close-cropped hair, a male facial appearance and voice, large number of tattoos and facial stubble.’
The woman received an apology from the NHS following the incident at a clinic in North West London NHS Foundation on September 16 last year.
In her letter of complaint she wrote that, when booking the appointment, she had requested a female nurse or practitioner. She added: ‘People who are not comfortable about this are presented as bigots and this is kind of how I was made to feel about it.’
The patient emphasised that her complaint was not in relation to the nurse’s appearance or gender status.
It comes as equalities minister and education secretary Justine Greening said she was considering proposals that would allow people to legally change their gender without being diagnosed by a doctor.
Ms. Greening was last week said to be getting cold feet about self-certification after a consultation on changes to the Gender Recognition Act was delayed.
James Caspian, a psychotherapist who works specialises in working with transgender people, said scenarios similar to that the patient who went for a smear test experienced would become more common is self-certification went ahead. He argued that politicians had not thought through the implications of such a move.
Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘We apologised to this patient for the recording error and because the staff member accepted they didn’t manage the situation appropriately or professionally; the patient needed to feel listened to.
‘Trust policy for all services is to consider seriously all requests for clinicians of a particular gender; it allows patients to feel more supported; we will deny a request if we believe it to be sexually motivated or where there might be a risk to a member of staff, but we will always explain ourselves.’
NHS guidelines say its transgender employees receive equal treatment and protection from discrimination at work but does not go into specifics about procedures.
The national census will ask every home in England and Wales if a transgender person lives there. The question, likely to be in the 2021 census, will be the first official attempt to count people who say they were born in the wrong sex.