Male sex offenders now permitted in women-only hospital wards

Sex offenders who were born male but identify as female can now be placed in women-only hospital wards in England, according to new guidance issued by hospital trusts.

“If anyone starts off with an assumption that a trans person is a sex offender – or even a potential sex offender – that is discrimination and transphobia,” said Dr. Jane Hamlin, president of the Beaumont Society, a trans support group.

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Hospitals in three cities across England have told their staff that a criminal history should be part of a risk assessment when placing biological males in a female-only ward. However, previous criminal history or sexual offenses would not prevent their placement in the female-only ward.

An order from the Department of Health says hospitals must provide single-sex wards. Medics have warned that the new guidance could breach their code of conduct by knowingly putting the most vulnerable at risk.

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The “Risk of sexual offending in a trans context is very rare” and that if there is “significant risk” staff would “apply the same robust mitigation that we would to a non-trans patient to ensure a safe therapeutic environment,” the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust said in a statement.

“Where a transgender woman is admitted and has a history of sex offending, decisions regarding risk should include consideration of whether they are being prescribed anti-libidinal medication that would be expected to reduce sexual risk,” the new guidance reads.

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“Transgender people must be able to use the facilities of their preferred gender while admitted. This includes shower rooms, toilets, and single-sex lounges.” The guidance also says, “there may be occasions where it is lawful to refuse access to single-sex facilities, but only if this is justified and is proportionate against a legitimate outcome.”

One nurse, who wished to remain anonymous, said the hospital wards are not protecting the most vulnerable patients and are beginning to resemble jails.

“In-patients are often frail, elderly, and confused, and we as nurses have a duty to protect them…They are not being safeguarded, and they are not getting the dignity and the privacy they deserve…The public believes that we have single-sex spaces for our most vulnerable, our mothers, our grandmothers, but it is simply not true. NHS wards are replicating what is happening in jails,” the nurse said.

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The health board advised staff to treat women who were uncomfortable sleeping next to biological male patients the same way they would a racist who was concerned about being next to a minority patient.

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