The UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he is “looking at” changing rules that allow trans women to be placed on female NHS wards.
Hancock made the comments in an interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari on Monday (March 4), in which he was asked about policies that allow trans patients to be placed on the wards that reflect their gender identity.
The health secretary, who was wearing a rainbow NHS badge intended to promote LGBT+ inclusion within the health service, said he was “uncomfortable” with the long-standing transgender inclusion policy.
Matt Hancock says hospitals have ‘very similar problem to prisons’
Hancock said: “This is a very, very difficult question and the current rules of the NHS are that people are treated as they are presented, as they present.
“So if somebody is a woman, and has gone through the legal changes to be a woman, then they are treated as a woman.”
He added: “We have a very similar problem in prisons, in terms of when the gender… they have to be legally changed.”
The issue has been topical in the wake of a controversial Daily Telegraph article published in January that referred to transgender women as “men” being allowed access to women’s wards.
The article included an anonymous claim that a transgender woman had “become sexually aroused on a female ward, causing distress to a group of elderly patients,” though there is no official record of any such incident or complaint.
When Ferrari prompted him about rules relating to transgender women with penises, Hancock said: “You can see why I’m uncomfortable with… er… I think essentially this whole area needs looking at.
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“I think we need to look at what the rules ought to be.”
Health Secretary ‘looking at’ change to transgender rules
When Ferrari suggested a trans woman with a “male appendage” should not be on a women’s ward, Hancock replied: “You can see where I’m coming from.”
He added: “I think that it’s very, very difficult, but the current rules of the NHS, which were set some years ago… there’s a lot of law in this space as well.
“We can’t just move without serious consideration. The problem is, that is the current way the NHS organises.”
Asked if he would seek to change the rules, Hancock responded: “We are looking at it, yes.”
The comments come after the Ministry of Justice announced it is reviewing a policy that states trans women should be placed in women’s prisons in the first instance.
Speaking to PinkNews last month, equalities minister Baroness Williams said: “I think definitely that we shouldn’t take a knee-jerk reaction to this.
“We should make sure that single-sex spaces, which they have been since 2004, are trans inclusive.”