LONDON — The National Health Service (NHS) of the U.K. has issued an apology after a woman contacted them to complain that after she requested a female nurse for her pap smear, a man who identified as a woman arrived to handle the procedure.
A pap smear is a routine test that is performed on adult women every 3-5 years, depending on age, and involves the collection of cell samples in the cervix to test for cervical cancer.
The woman, who spoke with The Sunday Times and requested to maintain her anonymity, said that she had requested that a female nurse handle the intimate procedure this past September, but became “embarrassed and distressed” when the nurse who greeted her had a deep voice and facial stubble.
The woman says that she told the nurse that there must have been a mistake, but he replied, “My gender is not male. I’m a transsexual.”
“[It is] weird where somebody says to you, ‘My gender is not male’ and you think, ‘Well, what does that even mean? You are clearly a man,’” she recalled to the outlet. “[The nurse] had an obviously male appearance … close-cropped hair, a male facial appearance and voice, [a] large number of tattoos and facial stubble.”
She decided not to go forward with the procedure, and instead lodged a complaint with the NHS. The woman remarked that the situation was uncomfortable enough for a “40-something” woman such as herself, and that she could imagine it would have been even worse if it were her teenage daughter instead.
“People who are not comfortable about this are presented as bigots and this is kind of how I was made to feel about it,” she lamented.
The Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust has now issued an apology about the matter, advising that a clerical error had occurred.
“We apologized to this patient for the recording error and because the staff member accepted they didn’t manage the situation appropriately or professionally; the patient needed to feel listened to,” it said, according to a statement published by The Sun.
“Trust policy for all services is to consider seriously all requests for clinicians of a particular gender; it allows patients to feel more supported,” the NHS continued. “We will deny a request if we believe it to be sexually motivated or where there might be a risk to a member of staff, but we will always explain ourselves.”
Respected Anglican preacher J.C. Ryle (1816-1900) once said, “Let us not only think of ourselves. Let us also think of others. There are millions in the world who have no spiritual light at all. They are without God, without Christ, and without hope (Eph. 2:12). Can we do nothing for them?”
“The highest form of selfishness is that of the person who is content to go to Heaven alone. The truest charity is to endeavor to share with others every spark of religious light we possess ourselves, and so to hold up our own candle that it may give light to everyone around us. Happy is that soul, which, as soon as it receives light from Heaven, begins to think of others as well as itself! No candle which God lights was ever meant to burn alone.”