Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow health secretary, recently graced Sky with an interview that left everyone perplexed and trans people angry.
The man, known for his cozy ties to private healthcare, took centre stage not to discuss the NHS’s financial woes, but to champion its segregation based on trans identity.
On patient safety, why I’m committed to single sex wards and why the Conservatives have been irresponsible to scapegoat trans people.
The full clip – not the selected edit. pic.twitter.com/QiIMBhxlr8
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) January 30, 2024
On Tuesday, a short clip was doing the rounds of Wes Streeting being interviewed on Sky. It showed the Labour shadow health secretary saying that he would like to see wards on hospitals for men, women and trans people.
It seemed very clear that Streeting, known for his ties to private healthcare, was advocating for the segregation of trans people in an NHS that can barely find beds for anyone in the current system it has.
Later in the evening, Streeting tweeted out a longer clip (tweet above). The short clip was, it seems, aimed at painting him in a bad light.
The end result was that everybody was mad at Streeting as he confirmed he wanted to see trans people in their own wards, despite also saying that to ‘scapegoat trans people’ was a Tory culture war tactic.
During the interview, it was Streeting who brought up trans people. He was keen to show it is the Tories who have a problem with us, not Labour.
Sophy Ridge, interviewing, tried to steer him away from the topic. It was not what she wanted to talk about and knew it was a distraction.
Streeting brings trans people up again. And again.
“There’s still tens of thousands of patients on mix sex wards and what did we get from the former Health secretary at the Conservative Party Conference, his big set piece speech announcement was to say we’ve got a problem with trans people on female only wards and correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think we’ve seen anything in your report that says that that’s the particular issue here,” Streeting said.
“The issue here is that we’ve got, in most cases men, but, in any case, we’ve got mixed sex wards where safety and vulnerability is an issue,
Ridge tried to clarify, asking about cost pressures and if more money needs to be put in. Again, Streeting brought up trans people.
“We’ve certainly got an understaffed NHS,” Streeting said, “but this is about also about priorities and solving problems, so instead of trying to find scapegoats all the time, as the former Health secretary did with his speech suggesting that trans people are the problem here, rather than, you know…”
Ridge interjected, trying to steer the conversation back to financing the NHS. Again, Streeting brought it back to trans people.
“We’ve committed to the biggest expansion of NHS staff in history” Streeting said. ”We’ve pushed the government to adopt Labour’s Workforce plan. They have but I think this has got to be a priority because it concerns patient safety and it should not be beyond the realms of possibility to have wards for women, wards for men and also suitable safe accommodation for trans people, too.”
Finally, Ridge relented, sensing Streeting has something he very clearly wanted to say about trans people. “So, that should be separate or do you think trans people should be put in wards determined on their sex or their gender?”
Streeting finally had his opening.
“No, I think, I think the best thing both to protect the dignity and respect of trans people and also to maintain the integrity of single sex spaces,” he whistled. “It’s to make sure we’ve got single sex wards and I think that would be the right and appropriate way forward but at the moment we’ve got the awful situation where, as you said, last year mixed achieved record levels and that’s not what we want to see.
“We want to see single sex spaces because they are safer spaces and people, particularly women, feel much more comfortable and safe in women only wards and the evidence bears that out too and we’ve got to put patient safety first.”
One wonders, where exactly is the evidence Streeting has to back up these claims? Where is the proof that trans people, by their very existence, violate the ‘integrity’ of a single-sex ward? This phantom menace, conjured from the murky depths of prejudice, lacks any grounding in reality.
Streeting, like many in Labour’s ranks, seems to believe in the magical art of trans-placating pronouncements. On the one hand, sugary platitudes about respecting trans people; on the other, thinly veiled anxieties about “women’s spaces” and the ever-present spectre of the mythical trans predator. This warped tango of doublespeak and dog whistles is not only an insult to trans people’s intelligence but also a dangerous ploy to appease the very bigotry they claim to oppose.
If you don’t see trans people, trans women in particular, as a threat, what has ‘protecting the dignity and respect of trans people’ got to do with ‘maintaining the integrity of single sex spaces’? What has trans inclusion got to do with the safety of (cis) women?
Labour’s attempt to play both sides of the so-called “trans issue” is a transparent act of political cowardice. While Starmer whispers sweet nothings about trans rights to one audience, he’s off telling Mumsnet that trans kids should be outed to their parents, regardless of what that might mean for the child.
Meanwhile, his acolytes like Streeting happily churn out transphobic talking points. They seem blissfully unaware that their audience isn’t stupid. We hear their pronouncements, both the kind and the cruel, and the dissonance is deafening.
Streeting’s Sky News performance wasn’t just a display of political opportunism; it was a stark reminder of the hypocrisy and danger that festers within Labour’s ranks. Until they choose to confront their own internalised prejudice, until they stop dancing to the tune of transphobic fear-mongering, their so-called ‘respect’ for trans people means nothing, a mouldy piece of garnish on a plate of exclusion and nothing more.
The NHS has enough problems to contend with without the baggage of manufactured culture wars continuing. Perhaps, instead of obsessing over imagined threats in single-sex wards, Streeting and his ilk would be better served focusing on the very real crisis facing the healthcare system – a crisis that, unlike their imaginary trans bogeymen, actually poses a tangible threat to the well-being of all patients, regardless of their gender.
Streeting’s interview also served as a stark reminder that the NHS needs champions who can tackle its real challenges, not politicians fixated on creating scapegoats for its ills. Until Labour chooses to prioritise the well-being of all patients over pandering to prejudiced narratives, their claims of safeguarding the NHS will ring hollow, drowned out by the chorus of trans-inclusive voices rightfully demanding respect and equality.