The following is an open letter to our current Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Please share widely.
Dear Mr. Javid,
I am writing to you as a U.K. citizen and voter who pays tax and national insurance and has a legal right to access the NHS, which is under your jurisdiction. I am legally male. As is my right under law, I applied for and received a Gender Recognition Certificate some ten years ago. I also had, until very recently, a cervix. This morning, my wife brought my attention to your tweet, which contradicts a fact of U.K. law. Some men and non-binary people do, in legal and clinical fact, have a cervix.
If you had said that trans men were not men in a different context, I might have ignored it and moved on. What you did say, however, contradicts current U.K. law, and is a sentiment that creates real, tangible, measurable risk the lives of U.K. citizens who happen to be trans.
Why? Because the idea that no men have cervixes is a foundational cause of the current application of cervical screening in the England and Wales, which means that countless trans men are unable to access this life-saving screening.
When I turned twenty-five, I knew that I should access cervical screening. Despite knowing that the test would be unpleasant, and potentially traumatic, I was determined to access it, as I did not want to risk my life. I did not receive a reminder, as I am legally male, and the current N.H.S. system only reminds women to attend cervical screening. I asked my G.P. if I could access screening. Fortunately, I had a G.P. who supports trans people, many are not as lucky. My G.P. had to move heaven and earth to enable me to have a cervical smear. The N.H.S. computer system, you see, doesn’t allow a clinician to register a cervical sample for someone who is legally male. As a result, she had to circumvent the system.
What if I hadn’t known that cervical screening starts at 25?
What if I was too embarrassed, worried, or confused to ask my G.P. about this sensitive topic?
What if my G.P. hadn’t been willing to circumnavigate a system that pretends I don’t exist?
What if I hadn’t been screened, and had had cervical cancer?
What if your opinion condemns real, living human beings to death?
I hope that you can see that, regardless of your personal opinion, your political position means that it is irresponsible to publicly deny legal fact, particularly when said fact is essential to the health and well-being of some of those for whom you hold a position of responsibility. Whether you like it or not, there are men and non-binary people in the U.K. who have cervixes, and they have a right to equal access to N.H.S. screening and health care.
Please publicly recant your statement. Further, as the person with ultimate responsibility for the N.H.S., please meet with transmen and non-binary people – I would be very happy to talk with you as, I am sure, would others. We need you to ensure that we have access to life saving screening and treatment. It is your duty. Please don’t ignore it.
Revd. Alex Clare-Young