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We need trans+ allyship now

This week marked the launch of Allies Coming out for Trans+ (ACT+). A collective of businesses in the creative community have come together to demonstrate practical and tangible allyship to the trans+ community, which has faced increasing hate speech and hate crime in Britain over the years. 

The launch comes in the same week as recent plans from the Tory Party to update the NHS constitution, allowing hospital patients in England the right to request treatment in single-sex wards. 

This has made headlines, as the policy emphasises the significance of biological sex; a request being made means forcing trans-people in the same ward to be relocated to separate single rooms. Government officials say that this update prioritises patient welfare and includes provision for same-sex intimate care. Concerns have been raised by the British Medical Association and many other groups that this could lead to restricting their access to essential, already very limited, NHS services. These plans play into the ongoing culture wars, reinforcing social divisions that contribute to driving up transphobia, which we have seen particularly over the last year. 

This initiative is a continuation of a previous commitment made by former health Secretary Steve Barclay who aimed to ensure trans-people were not placed in male or female-only wards, arguing that patients’ rights need to be safeguarded. This proposition has been criticised openly, perhaps most notably by Translucent, an LGBTQIA+ advocacy organisation. They conducted a comprehensive study across 102 UK hospitals in 2022, with its results revealing no grievances reported from cis-gendered individuals sharing wards with transgender patients. 

Furthermore, discrimination against transgender people has a direct correlation to negatively impacting their health outcomes, which has already been well documented. Dr Emma Runswick from the British Medical Association discusses how these proposed changes “run the risk of causing more harm than good, with the potential to incite further discrimination, harassment, and ostracisation of an already marginalised group.”

In light of these developments, it demonstrates the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in healthcare policy and practice. Cleo Madeleine from Gendered Intelligence makes a reasonable assessment of the situation, stating how: 

“After 14 years of austerity, medical professionals are crying out for more funding, more resources, and better conditions for staff and patients. The government seems hell-bent on pursuing its obsession with the transgender community instead of addressing these longstanding needs.” 

Instead of leaning into narratives and practices that amplify transphobia, attention should be directed towards addressing the numerous systemic issues plaguing the healthcare system that affect so many in society today. Moreover, they should be considering how they can actually better support such a marginalised group. 

For anyone in a position of power, there is a choice to follow the bandwagon that’s leading to hate and lives in danger or to choose a road that leads to a fair and more equal country. 

The question we really need to ask is: why pursue division when we could be pursuing inclusion?


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