Fury as Tories propose that trans women be banned from female NHS wards – and Keir Starmer agrees

In plans supported by Labour leader Keir Starmer, the UK government has proposed that trans women should not be put on single-sex female NHS wards: a move that has prompted widespread anger.

The proposal is part of a raft of changes to the NHS Constitution for England, or NHS Charter, as it’s often referred to: a sort of bill of rights for patients.

The changes are part of a wider review of the NHS Constitution, which must be done every 10 years.

The new guidance stresses the importance of “biological sex” when it comes to same-sex hospital accommodation and care, reports the BBC. Similarly, the changes also state that trans men should not be housed on single-sex male wards.

Since 2021, NHS guidance has allowed for transgender patients to be treated in single-sex wards based on the gender with which they identify.

Under the revised NHS Charter, trans people may be provided single rooms “where appropriate”. Also, patients will have the right to request a person of the same biological sex delivers any intimate care.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said it was about making it clear that “sex matters”.

“We want to make it abundantly clear that if a patient wants same-sex care, they should have access to it wherever reasonably possible,” she said. “By putting this in the NHS Constitution, we’re highlighting the importance of balancing the rights and needs of all patients, to make a healthcare system that is faster, simpler and fairer to all.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer also backed the plans. In an appearance on Good Morning Britain on 30 April, he was asked asked if trans women should be allowed on women’s wards, and said: “I disagree”. Keir Starmer also rolled back on previous pro-trans comments he’d made in the same interview.

The move has come amid an escalation of the ongoing culture war currently raging around transgender rights in the UK.

The proposal to ban trans women from female NHS wards was first put forward by former Health Secretary Steve Barclay in October 2023, under his plan to allegedly restore “common sense” to the NHS. His plan also aimed to reinstate “sex-specific” language throughout the health service when referring to treatments for and advice on menopause and cervical and ovarian cancer.

At the time, a source close to Barclay commented: “The Secretary of State is fed up with this agenda and the damage it’s causing, language like ‘chestfeeding’, talking about pregnant ‘people’ rather than women. It exasperates the vast majority of people, and he is determined to take action on it.

Shortly after Barclay’s statement, a discrimination barrister went on record to say that the Tory plans to ban trans women from female hospital wards are “unlawful”.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins’ comments – and Keir Starmer’s support for the changes – prompted widespread anger and concern on social media, with many trans people and allies taking to X (Twitter) to vent about the proposals.

One trans woman tweeted: “Sorry, but I’d rather die than ever be placed in a male ward (or private room off a male ward).” Jay Hulme, who is a trans man, also tweeted about the issue, suggesting women might not be happy if he’s placed in a female ward when he’s next in hospital.

Others mentioned how disappointed they were with Keir Starmer for backing the Tory proposals. One mother of a trans child said: “So sad. I’ve always voted Labour but now if I do, and my daughter needs hospital treatment, they will put her in a men’s ward?”

Comedian Janey Godley, a vocal trans ally, reshared a post with photos of trans men, suggesting that they would all be “forced into female wards” to satisfy the “trans panic bams”. Bams is short for bampots, which means ‘idiots’ in Scottish slang.

Another Twitter user summed up how many people were feeling, saying: “Sickening, vindictive cruelty. There is no reason ~whatsoever~ to ban trans women from female hospital wards. To suggest that this should happen in the name of ‘safety’ is disgusting as it implies trans women are inherently dangerous, which they are not.”