UK’s health system grapples with battle between gender and sex | Women News

Names marked with an asterisk* have been changed to protect identities.

London, United Kingdom – When debates about gender identity rage In the United Kingdom, several health professionals have told Al Jazeera that they are afraid to talk about the issue, worried that in doing so they may face bullying, harassment and threats of discipline law for alleged discrimination.

They also warn that health services could be altered in ways that ultimately harm patients and society as a whole, if gender-based medical terms and practices are eroded while gender identity is undermined. Popular.

The three experts Al Jazeera spoke to for this article asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, both personally and professionally.

From a medical perspective, humans come in two forms, male or female.

But in recent years, gender identity has become more prominent, posing challenges to key areas such as education and health.

Gender is described as a person’s inner idea of ​​male or female qualities or other qualities. It is considered an identity and disqualified by biomarkers.

It is usually flexible but always self-declared.

And to make matters more complicated, gender is often used as a polite synonym for sex, especially in the United States.

In February 2020, as a forensic psychiatrist, Edith* became increasingly concerned about gender-specific confusion after the Association of LGBTQ+ Dentists and Doctors (GLADD) announced that the Council The UK’s General Medicine (GMC), the regulator for the education and training of doctors, will remove gender markers – which the GLADD calls “gender” – as a protected trait from its online public register.

This means doctors will be able to remove their gender from the register, which is a divisive issue.

Some argue that patients, such as victims of sexual violence whose abuser is of the opposite sex, should have a right to know their doctor’s biological sex.

Others say that doctors should have the right to determine how they want.

In November 2022, the British Medical Association (BMA) published a report titled “LGBTQ+ medical equality”, which said: “Doctors come from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, trends, and backgrounds. sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Discrimination, whether from patients or from colleagues, has an adverse impact on the lives of doctors. The BMA clearly states that discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity has no place in medicine.”

But according to Edith, there is pressure to promote an affirmative approach to all issues of gender identity rather than evidence-based approaches.

“The job of a psychiatrist is not to promote positive stories; you are supposed to be neutral and objective,” Edith said.

At an educational event, Edith submitted a question to a panel involving transgender women in mental health facilities who change sex pending criminal trial.

“They found it [the question] ‘transphobic’, ‘discriminatory’ and ‘biased’. I’m a forensic psychiatrist, here’s what you see. Just because you state a fact and you don’t like it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist… People play games with the system.”

Earlier this year, the case of Isla Bryson, who is now identified as a transgender woman, has raised concerns. Initially, the Scottish Prison Service placed Bryson, who was convicted of raping women in 2016 and 2019 while also known as Adam Graham, into Scotland’s only all-female prison.

But after criticism from politicians and women’s rights groups, Bryson was transferred to a men’s prison.

At the time of publication, GLADD did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.

When approached for feedback, a BMA spokesperson pointed to an online page declare about the organization’s stance and said it was willing to sign the GLADD charter, which calls for a ban on so-called conversion therapy – another controversial topic.

Some fear that such a move could expose clinicians who provide meaningful therapy to prosecution.

‘People dare not say’

Ashley*, who has years of experience teaching medicine at colleges and hospitals, says a culture of fear is taking shape.

“People don’t dare say it,” Ashley said. “Not even the doctors, because it’s not worth it.”

Ashley said a group of students and healthcare workers affiliated with GLADD regularly scroll through tweets by clinicians who refuse to use gender-recognizable terms, such as “cis,” rather than the term. Medical terminology based on gender.

Ashley shared a screenshot of a GLADD-aligned diversity director’s presentation last November, which stated that hospitals should accommodate transgender women in women’s wards.

“For the sake of the people there is no gay theory, gender identity in the NHS [National Health Service],” Ashley said, “I worry about older people being placed in mixed-use wards. It’s about protecting issues that aren’t considered and I feel like that’s a failure of the government right now because they’re not protecting people from this.”

For his part, as gender barriers continue to unfold, the UK Health Secretary, Steve Barclay, has asked the leaders of NHS agencies to consider membership of charities. LGBTQ+ and assess the need for diverse officials.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement sent to Al Jazeera: “Taxpayers properly expect value for money from every penny spent in our NHS. That’s why the Health and Social Care Secretary has asked the NHS and all its agencies to look into whether their diverse and inclusive membership is worth the money. and look at ways to improve.”

In the first census to include gender identity, the Office for National Statistics said this year 262,000 people, or 0.5% of the population aged 16 and over in the UK, identified as having gender identity. gender identity other than their sex at birth.

Under British law, a person does not need medical treatment to change from female to male on documents such as a passport and driver’s license.

But to adjust birth, marriage and death certificates, a £5 Certificate of Gender Recognition is required and that requires a medical diagnosis of dysmenorrhea. late sex and at least two years of living in the “assigned sex”.

“There are clinicians that I have talked to who have had men [patients] Isadora Sanger, a retired psychiatrist who is still registered to practice medicine, said those who identified as women and their records had been completely erased from any information about their biological sex.

“Surname [trans patients] complaints that may be related to hormone treatment, and doctors can’t even discuss it openly with them – and so it’s a really stressful interaction. straight, can’t speak or ask… It’s just that the doctors who are gagged can’t do their job responsibly.”

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