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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.