A piece by Nicholas Hellen in yesterday’s Sunday Times. Emphases are ours:
A mother with a fear of men has described her terror when she was locked in an NHS women’s psychiatric ward with a burly transgender patient who was about 6ft tall and “extremely male-bodied”.
Philippa Molloy, 42, said this weekend that she was “genuinely, absolutely terrified” because she had suffered a relapse in her bipolar disorder that made her irrationally convinced that men were conspiring to kill her.
When she raised her concerns with hospital staff, however, she said she was not taken seriously and her medical notes implied that she was a “transphobic bigot”.
She said the NHS had failed to think through the implications of allowing patients to self-identify their gender.
“The rights of that trans person to feel safe were put above the rights of me to feel safe as a natal woman,” Molloy said.
“Hang on a moment: the rights of someone born male being in front of someone born female — where have you heard that one before?” [J4MB: Nowhere, to be honest.]
It is the latest in a series of disagreements about transgender people sharing female-only facilities.
A controversial ruling has allowed men transitioning to be women to swim at the ladies’ pond on Hampstead Heath, north London, and The Sunday Times has revealed how a male-bodied NHS nurse was set to perform a cervical smear test on a woman who had requested a female nurse.
The resignation last week of Justine Greening, the equalities minister, has created uncertainty about plans to make it easier for people to change gender without a doctor’s diagnosis.
Molloy, who is married and has two children, was admitted to a women’s secure psychiatric ward on the night of February 15, 2016 in Burnley, 45 miles from her home in Lancaster.
“Part of my psychosis was that I was convinced I was being followed by men’s rights activists. It sounds ridiculous, but that was it. They wanted to kill me, they were going to come after me. And my husband was involved in everything. Because of that I was taken and placed in a female-only unit,” she said.
She describes herself as a feminist [J4MB: Now there’s a surprise] who had previously campaigned against the closure of a women-only ward.
“If you erroneously believe that there are men wanting to infiltrate your life in order to kill you and that is on your notes and that is why you are in a female unit [and you] suddenly discover a male- bodied person in your six-bed bay . . . I was terrified. Genuinely. Absolutely.”
She said the patient, who had arrived four days into her stay, was “presenting as female but they were very clearly physically male, very broad shoulders and about 6ft. They used to wander around in their dressing gown, not a particularly long dressing gown, [J4MB: What has the length of the dressing gown got to do with anything? Ah. Yes.] all the time.
“You are on a locked ward and you have nowhere to go. In Burnley there are no private rooms and you are just separated by curtains.”
She said other women on the ward were also at risk, one being a victim of male violence and another woman experiencing hypersexuality as a symptom of bipolar mania.
Two days after the arrival of the trans patient, Molloy was moved to a hospital in Lancaster where she stayed until April. She said she was taken aback when a nurse handling her case told her she was “really surprised to read your opinions about trans people” in the case notes.
Molloy was shocked by the implication that she was a “transphobic bigot” and by the failure to recognise that her response in the secure ward was “because I was psychotic. I don’t think trans people are a threat at all. At the time I believed that men were a threat.”
She said the incident had deterred her from going to hospital last October when she had a relapse with similar symptoms.
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust said: “We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this directly with the person further to the written response they have previously received.
“The Equality Act offers guidance about the admission of transgender people to NHS wards and this is something we have also taken legal advice on. This directs that transgender people should be able to self-identify and receive treatment on the ward that is appropriate and in line with that self-identification.”
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