The word ‘woman’ could be removed from specialist NHS clinics dealing with women’s health issues under proposed new transgender inclusion rules.
A report proposing new NHS treatment guidelines in Scotland it suggests “a general move away from gender healthcare” and warns that transgender people are discouraged from attending services if they are geared toward a certain sex.
It states that trans men can feel “really uncomfortable” if they have to attend a “women’s health clinic” for services such as birth control programs or cancer screening.
The proposed guidelines, due to be sent to minister Nicola Sturgeon for imminent approval, want the Scottish NHS to formally recognize “increasing gender identities for patients”, especially those who consider themselves neither male nor female.
It also asks laboratories to “separate” reference ranges in test results from “gender markers.” Men and women have different healthy ranges in a series of criteria, for example, in blood tests.
Instead, the report’s claim ranges must be “relevant to the individual.” The suggestion was qualified as a denial of reality by the doctors.
Experts have expressed fear that moves towards what trans activists see as “inclusive language” in the health service are dehumanizing and potentially dangerous, for example by confusing those who do not speak English well.
“It seems that the The Scottish NHS is in the grip of a science-denying cultsaid Susan Smith, director of campaign group For Women Scotland.
“Gender, including non-binary identities, is irrelevant in medicine, but sex matters. This movement will almost inevitably affect women.
“Progress to improve standards in women’s health care has been hard to come; this will turn back the clock decades.”
Women described as ‘those of us with ovaries’
The Scottish NHS has previously criticized for omitting references to women of public health campaigns and instead using terms like “menstruating people”.
A Scottish government-backed advice booklet designed to teach young people about periods referred to “those of us who have both our ovaries and a womb.”
However, proposed new NHS guidelines call for “inclusive signage”, literature and leaflets to ensure services are “accessible” to transgender people.
The report states: “Systems within the NHS in Scotland should allow for the increase in gender identities for patients, including specifically non-binary identities. This should be done as part of a general move away from gender healthcare.
“Transgender people may feel uncomfortable seeking reproductive health care or contraception when the ‘target audience’ for services is advertised in a way that is inconsistent with their gender identity (eg for a cervical smear).”
‘Useless and potentially dangerous’
Louise Irvine, a retired GP who is co-chair of the Sex and Gender Clinical Advice Network, expressed concern about the repeated references to the Global Professional Association for Transgender Health in the report.
He said the association’s guidelines were “very flawed” and potentially harmful to patients and questioned why the advice of respected Scottish experts was not preferred.
“Proposals to change entire IT, language, and clinical systems are timid, futile, and potentially dangerous,” said Dr. Irvine.
“It’s unclear what ‘gendered healthcare’ means, so how can the NHS move away from that?”
“You can’t completely walk away from gendered healthcare, because everyone has a biological sex, even if they take extra hormones to assert themselves or look differently.
“To safely interpret test results, it is necessary to know a person’s sex, as well as their age, conditions, and drugs. To suggest otherwise simply denies reality.”
Professor Alice Sullivan, head of research at University College London’s Institute for Social Research, also criticized the guidelines.
She said: “We can recognize people’s identities without pretending they don’t have sex. Identifying as non-binary doesn’t affect whether you might need a cervical smear or prostate exam, for example.”
A spokesman for NHS National Services Scotland, which commissioned the report, said it would be “inappropriate” to comment until its new gender reassignment protocol is officially published.