Woman In Hospital Ward Accused of Transphobia After Complaining About Trans Patient In Her Unit

The woman says she was suffering from a bipolar episode: "At the time I believed that men were a threat."

A woman admitted to a secured psychiatric wing at a British hospital says she was unfairly branded a transphobe for not feeling comfortable sharing the ward with a trans woman.

Philippa Molloy, 42, was admitted to Burnley General Hospital in February 2016 following a bipolar relapse. One of her symptoms was an irrational fear that men were trying to kill her: “Part of my psychosis was that I was convinced I was being followed by men’s rights activists,” she told the Times. “It sounds ridiculous, but that was it. They wanted to kill me, they were going to come after me. And my husband was involved in everything.”

Because of that delusion, Molloy says, “I was taken and placed in a female-only unit.”

Four days into her stay, a transgender woman was admitted on to Molloy’s ward. She describes the patient as “presenting as female, but they were very clearly physically male—very broad shoulders and about 6 feet tall.”

The woman’s presence reportedly triggered Molloy’s paranoiac delusions.

“[Imagine] if you erroneously believe that there are men wanting to infiltrate your life in order to kill you, and that is on your notes and that is why you are in a female unit, [and then you] suddenly discover a male-bodied person in your six-bed bay,” she said. “I was terrified. Genuinely. Absolutely.”

She emphasizes that she isn’t transphobic, but was suffering from a mental health crisis. “I was psychotic. I don’t think trans people are a threat at all. At the time I believed that men were a threat.”

Two days after the arrival of the trans’ patient, Molloy was transferred to another hospital. When a nurse later told her she was “really surprised to read your opinions about trans people,” Molloy says she felt she was being painted as a “transphobic bigot.”

She insists she knows she wasn’t acting rationally at the time, but she has complained about access to female-only units before. Molloy also says the recovery of other women on the ward was also put into jeopardy, citing one woman who experienced male violence and another whose bipolar mania manifests as compulsive sexual urges.

The Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, which oversees Burnley General Hospital, it welcomes the opportunity to discuss the issue with Molloy directly. But, the organization added, “The Equality Act offers guidance about the admission of transgender people to NHS wards and this is something we have also taken legal advice on. This directs that transgender people should be able to self-identify and receive treatment on the ward that is appropriate and in line with that self-identification.”

Zachary Zane is a writer and activist whose work focuses on sexuality, culture, and academic research. He has contributed to The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and The Advocate.
@ZacharyZane