Little things make a big difference: The hospital environment

There are lots of things that you can do to create a reassuring and comfortable hospital environment for trans people. Many of these are small, quick and inexpensive and others may require a bit more time and investment.

Make sure that displays around the hospital and in waiting areas reflect the patients in your local community. Just as it’s important that Black people and People of Colour see themselves represented in your health promotion materials, it’s important that trans people see themselves represented too.

Look for ways to signal to trans people that they are welcome, can expect to be treated with respect and will be supported in your hospital. This might include:

  • Displaying a poster detailing your hospital’s commitment to equality and diversity (make sure it specifically mentions trans people)
  • Flying the Progress Pride flag during LGBT+ history month and the trans flag on Trans Day of Visibility.
  • Displaying a Progress Pride flag and/or trans flag all year round.
  • Displaying and providing trans-specific health promotion materials.

In waiting areas and in clinics for specialisms that are typically associated with people of a particular gender (for example, gynaecology), take extra care to make sure there are trans-specific health promotion materials relating to that specialism. It’s also advisable to avoid colour coding spaces with pink and blue – not just from a trans inclusion perspective, but because it perpetuates gender stereotypes.

There are things that individual members of staff can do to signal that they’re a safe person for a trans person to talk to. These include:

  • Sharing their own pronouns when they introduce themselves and/or in their e-mail signature.
  • Wearing an NHS Rainbow Badge
  • Including pronouns on their name badge
  • Wearing a rainbow lanyard

When you include your pronouns in your e-mail signature, it can be useful to include a link to a page explaining why you’re sharing them. You could link to or to a similar page.

Trans people ought to be able to use the facilities that most closely align with their gender. For trans women that would be women’s facilities and for trans men it would be men’s facilities.

There are a number of reasons for this:

  • Discrimination against trans people is against the Equality Act 2010. In the case of single-sex facilities, trans people’s exclusion is only permissible if it is proportionate and justifiable to do so. This may only ever be on a case by case basis.

  • Being forced to use the inappropriate facilities could lead people to find out that the particular person is trans. Some people don’t tell people that they’re trans because it could place them at risk of harassment or even physical harm. This may not take place immediately within the hospital, but later within the community.

  • The impact of dysphoria is such that, given the choice of using inappropriate toilet facilities or not using the toilet at all, trans people will not use the toilet when at your hospital. Not having access to appropriate toilet facilities will make trans people less likely to come to hospital, which could place their health at risk.

Providing gender neutral facilities (in addition to facilities for men and women) is a step you can take to make your hospital inclusive of non-binary people. Gender neutral toilet facilities can consist of a single self-contained toilet and sink, or can include communal sinks with a series of toilet cubicles with floor to ceiling doors and walls.

Single occupancy accessible toilets are often already gender neutral, but it’s important to ensure that enough facilities are available for everyone that may need to use them.

Make sure that gender neutral facilities are well signposted to ensure that they can be easily located and that everybody understands that anyone can use them.

It’s important to recognise that it’s not enough to just put a poster of a trans flag on a display board. This signal of commitment to trans inclusion must be backed up by your policies, processes and through the behaviour of all members of staff.

Errors or omissions

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A disclaimer: TransActual do not provide medical, health, or legal advice. The content of this page is intended for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a medical professional. It is not a substitute for advice from a legal professional. We strongly suggest you consult a healthcare professional or legal professional for specific advice about your situation. TransActual do not advocate or recommend the purchase of any specific product and we do not endorse or guarantee the credentials or appropriateness of any health care provider, any product or any provider of insurance and legal services.

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