Bukunola Adekolu shares her views on the Government proposals that transgender women should not be put on single-sex female NHS wards.


Source: Holmes Garden Photos / Alamy Stock Photo

The NHS announced that its constitution, which outlines the rights of patients, the public, and staff, would now place trans people in a separate room if a patient requests single-space wards. This is yet to be implemented—the consultation process ends on 25th June 2024, and will inform changes to the NHS Constitution that will be in place until 2035.

I, as a woman and a believer, am hesitant to view this change as a win for women’s safety and comfort. I question if it is being done with genuine concern or if it is an attempt by those who firmly believe in only two gender identities to impose their belief and turn it into legislation.

I, as a woman and a believer, am hesitant to view this change as a win for women’s safety and comfort.

This change has come at a time of increasing anti-trans attacks, including the plans set out by former health secretary Steve Barclay in October 2023, to ban transgender women from accessing treatment in female-only hospital wards in England. According to him and other ministers, this change will “stress the importance of biological sex and is about putting patients first”.

Therefore, instead of viewing this as a necessary addition for privacy and safety, I see it as yet another infringement on bodily autonomy. Because presently, these rights are in effect if patients express a desire for same-sex wards or where there is an urgent clinical necessity for it—why then is an additional update necessary?

In my opinion, this change in policy is problematic and opens the door for potential discrimination.

In my opinion, this change in policy is problematic and opens the door for potential discrimination.

Given that it highlights the importance of biological sex, we should meet it with scepticism, since there are those who do not fit into the established biological categories and we acknowledge the existence of diverse gender identities. 

As believers, I think if we take issue with someone’s gender identity, we are effectively othering them, expressing a sense of superiority, intolerant, and passing condemnation. The Gospel of Christ calls us to extend compassion, tolerance, and respect to all, regardless of their beliefs or how they practice their faith. Colossians 3:12 says, ’As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.’

I believe, that putting patients first means ensuring equal care for all, including transgender, non-binary and inter-sex patients. Trans-people already face inequality and barriers when accessing NHS care and services, so implementing a change that is likely to jeopardise access to care and vital NHS services based on someone’s identity is harmful and will never earn my support.

We should always probe any changes that might reduce some members of our community to subhuman status and deprive them of their dignity and respect. By looking out for others, we show the essence of being Christlike. We must prevent those with ill intentions from using the protection of women as a basis for opposing equality in any form. While it is important to honour patients’ preferences for same-sex care and separate wards, it is equally crucial for them to recognise and show respect for individuals with different gender identities.

If your Christianity does not advocate for consideration and respect towards every person, then it is not God you are seeking. To truly embody Christ’s teachings, it is important that your stance on gender identity does not dehumanise, diminish, or discriminate against those with differing beliefs.

In good conscience, I cannot applaud those seeking to codify beliefs and ideologies that disregard the existence of others into rules that apply to everyone. If the only way for me to feel safe using the NHS is by causing harm to others, then it’s clear that there is an issue with me—I’m relieved that is not the case.