Health secretary Sajid Javid made a welcome intervention into the debate about gender ideology at the weekend. On his BBC One show, Andrew Marr asked Labour leader Keir Starmer whether it was transphobic to say that ‘only women have cervixes’. Starmer infamously replied, ‘It is something that shouldn’t be said, it is not right’.
Enter Javid, who then tweeted that Starmer’s words were a ‘total denial of scientific fact’, and that this was shocking coming from a man who ‘wants to run the NHS.’
Perhaps Javid thought this was an easy win – a quick tweet that highlighted the clear blue water running between the Tories and Labour. If only. Over the past decade, on the Tories’ watch, the NHS has been increasingly captured by gender ideology. And Javid, despite health being his remit, is yet to say or do anything about it.
This matters for both NHS staff and patients. The takeover of trans ideology threatens the safety and dignity of women. It undermines everyday language, as well as free speech and freedom of conscience. And it also undermines science and medicine, posing risks to people’s health, including the health of those who identify as trans. Human beings are sexed down to our smallest cell. Denying this fact would be a problem in any context. Denying it in a medical context can be catastrophic.
The sheer size and complexity of the NHS makes it impossible to assess the true scale of the problem. The examples that have come to public attention are merely the tip of the iceberg.
Take the guidance produced by various NHS trusts on how to support trans patients and staff. No doubt the intentions are good. But most if not all of these documents show little respect for proportionality, women’s safety or how ordinary people communicate with each other. One example is the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust’s ‘transgender guidance’ for staff, published in January 2019.
The first problem with the guidance is that it misrepresents the law, claiming that ‘the Equality Act 2010… now states that a person who is transgender… must be treated as the gender they have chosen to be’. This is incorrect – there are important exemptions in the Equality Act for single-sex spaces and services.
The guidance also undermines science, defining gender identity as ‘a person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth’. Of course, medics should know that people are not ‘assigned’ sex at birth. A baby’s sex is an observable fact.
Extraordinarily for something published by the NHS, the Camdbridge guidance casually misrepresents even medical conditions. It defines ‘intersex’ people as ‘individuals whose anatomy or physiology differs from contemporary cultural stereotypes of what constitutes typical male and female’. In reality, intersex people are born with multiple sex characteristics, such as genitals or chromosome patterns. This has nothing to do with ‘cultural stereotypes’ or how someone identifies.
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