I was chatting to a young medical student, a very bright chap from West Africa, who was nonetheless perplexed by a certain element of his course. The puzzle, for him, was the point of offering cervical smear tests to men who had transitioned to become women. The course module was very clear, he said, that these people must not be left out, despite not possessing a cervix. I hope a later part of the course teaches him how to behave while carrying out a cervical smear test on a non-existent cervix, so as not to cause offence. Poke around a bit with that spatula thing in whatever has recently been excavated, and perhaps comment admiringly, along the lines of: ‘My goodness! What a splendid cervix. I don’t think I have ever seen one quite so robust or pristine. You should, as a lady, be very proud.’ We should thank God that at least the NHS has not adopted this policy yet.
I tried to explain to the lad that we are now living in a world which could best be described as ‘post-real’, where truth and fact have no purchase and that, for the sake of his career, he had best go along with it all unless he wanted to be outed as a fascist bigot, or a bigoted fascist, whatever. One day, not too far down the line, he may be faced with the problem of treating a man who identifies as a unicorn and presents with a complaint relating to his fetlocks. The temptation to nail some horseshoes to his feet may be close to irresistible, but he should resist nonetheless. Go along with the game and offer reassurance.
All this occurred at a rather uplifting meeting held in a delightfully renovated former whorehouse in central London, organised by a group called Turning Point UK.