UK NHS Patient Asks for Female Nurse for Cervical Smear, Gets Tattooed Trans Man With Stubble

Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

A woman who requested a female nurse for an intimate procedure was given an “obviously male” member of staff with stubble and tattoos, who claimed to be a transsexual.

The National Health Service (NHS) patient said she was “embarrassed and distressed” when summoned by a nurse with “an obviously male appearance … close-cropped hair, a male facial appearance and voice, large number of tattoos and facial stubble” to carry out a cervical smear, The Times reports.

When she pointed out what she thought was a mistake, the nurse told her off: “My gender is not male. I’m a transsexual.”

Speaking after the examination, which she ultimately decided to abandon, the patient said it was “weird where somebody says to you: ‘My gender is not male’ and you think: ‘Well, what does that even mean? You are clearly a man.’ ”

In a formal letter of complaint, she objected that “People who are not comfortable about this are presented as bigots and this is … kind of how I was made to feel about it.”

The incident raises concerns about the governing Tory Party’s proposed Gender Recognition Act, spearheaded by lesbian Education Secretary Justine Greening, which seeks to “de-medicalise” the gender transition process and allow men to legally change gender with a simple self-declaration.

Greening has described the change as necessary to “[tackle] some of the historic prejudices that still persist in our laws and giving LGBT people a real say on the issues affecting them”, but critics have said it could allow biological males easy access to women’s lavatories, changing areas, and even refuges without a medical professional having ever diagnosed them with genuine gender dysphoria.

The Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, which manages the clinic where this particular incident took place, conceded that its nurse had self-identified as a woman, but that they had not been employed on that basis.

“We apologised to this patient for the recording error and because the staff member accepted they didn’t manage the situation appropriately; the patient needed to feel listened to. Trust policy is to consider seriously all requests for clinicians of a particular gender,” the trust said in a statement.

The patient is fortunate to have received an apology, as police guidance could easily have allowed the trust to report her complain as an anti-trans “hate crime“, or at least a “non-crime hate incident“.

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