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"sex-based protections for everyone are gone"

I work with disabled youth, I’m a carer. I’ve been doing this job since my kids were little and I’m in my late 50s now. I got into this career just as a way of earning a bit of money while they were at school, but I fell in love with it.

Some people can’t understand why it’s so rewarding to me to be able to do all the small things for them, and to do those really well. I like making sure that they are comfortable, and clean and well dressed and groomed. I like to make sure they have interesting things to see and do. I like to joke with them and make them laugh.

Sometimes we have clients who are adult sized, and we need two of us to do the lifting etc for a shift. I work for an agency, and I don’t choose which staff member I’m paired with.

Last year I was paired up with a lady who I’ve worked with before, and we were assigned to a girl that we’d both worked with before too. So I thought it was going to be a really nice day.

But on my way to the client’s house, my manager called me and told me that my colleague had recently ‘come out’ as transgender and that as a matter of law, I needed to use the new male name and male pronouns that this colleague had chosen. I was pretty shocked to be honest, even though I’d gone through the trans training modules just like everyone else. But I thought it would work out ok.

I was wrong.

The girl who was our client that day is severely physically and moderately intellectually disabled. If you know any people like that you’ll know how honest they are, how lovely and bubbly and curious they can be. My Colleague explained her new transgender identity to our client and asked her to use the new name and pronouns.

But of course, the poor girl just kept on saying my colleagues old name and pronouns, and being corrected. She just couldn’t understand how my colleague had ‘turned into’ a boy (my colleague’s appearance had not changed at all).

Very, very quickly, it became distressing for our client. Like most of our female clients, she had been strictly trained by her family to say no to ‘boys’ touching her private parts- and she found the fact that she was apparently now being bathed by a ‘man’ incredibly upsetting.

I found the distress of our client (especially during her shower) and my inability to soothe her mind, one of the most horrific and traumatic experiences of my life.

As you can imagine, because our client’s condition, it’s both pragmatic and respectful to talk about what we about to do with her body as we are about to do it, so that there’s no surprises and she feels involved in what is happening to her. And that is where I too kept unintentionally referring to my client as ‘she’ and by her old name.

It is difficult to describe how stressed I was about getting in trouble and being labelled a transphobe, while at the same time, how intensely I wanted to protect my client from this whole situation and undo all her psychological distress by saying it wasn’t true….

And the more distressed my client became, the more distressed I became, and the more mistakes I made.

At the end of the shift, I felt more physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted than I ever have. By the time I got home I had such a migraine that my vision blurred, I vomited and basically had to stay in bed for three days.

The client’s mother contacted me privately in tears, to tell me how traumatised her daughter had been and how she was appalled at it all. But we both knew the law wasn’t on our side. We now have a private care arrangement where I’m paid less than at an agency, but it’s worth it just to stop that ever happening to my client again.

I’m so sad and angry that sex-based protections for everyone are gone, but I’m almost physically ill when I think of what the consequences are for the physical and mental health of vulnerable young people like my clients.

Who is responsible for trading away our rights for political correctness like this? It’s criminal.


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