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An NHS health board’s guidance which branded women who complained about sharing a ward with biological men as “transphobic” has been abandoned.

According to The Times, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have now reviewed their ‘Gender Reassignment Policy’, which compared such women to racists, and decided it should be “shelved indefinitely”.

The policy came under fire from women’s rights campaigners and gay activists.

Transphobes
The health board advice described a scenario where a nurse says she “understands” the concerns of a female patient who objects to having a biological male in the ward.

According to the guidelines, such a response was described as ‘not appropriate’. Rather, staff were expected to say “the ward is indeed female only and that there are no men present”.

It added, “should the woman continue to make demands about the removal of the transgender patient and be vocal in the ward” it might be necessary to remove the “complainant”.

The scenario concluded: “General appreciation of transgender issues is relatively low within our communities and often this is used as a rationale for behaviour that is essentially transphobic.”

Women’s dignity
A spokeswoman for gay lobby group LGB Alliance welcomed the news that the policy had been dropped.

She said: “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.”

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.”

Equality Act
Joan McAlpine MSP raised the matter in a Holyrood debate in March last year.

She questioned the Scottish Government’s commitment to single-sex exemptions on hospital wards under the Equality Act 2010 and asked the Cabinet Secretary to speak to the hospital board about reviewing its policy.

McAlpine said that such statements in official documents “cast doubt on assurances that the Government is committed to maintaining women’s privacy and dignity and the single-sex exemptions in the 2010 Act”.

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