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Trans paramedic spat at and asked 'what are you?' by patients who refuse her help
10 June 2022, 14:08
One of Britain's first trans paramedics has said she gets verbally abused by patients, some of whom refuse to be treated by her.
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Steph Meech, 53, has been a paramedic for 20 years.
Now at the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb), she has spoken of the abuse she has been subjected to since coming out as trans.
Ms Meech told the BBC she has been "spat at, just for who I am" and said she is "usually" asked "what are you?" when she arrives at the door to treat a patient.
She said the abuse she receives is "really not okay".
"I'm a paramedic first and foremost and I'm here to help," she said.
Across the country there were 11,749 reports of ambulance staff being attacked or abused in 2021 alone.
It represents a 35 per cent increase on the year before.
It means around 32 members of staff were abused or attacked every day that year.
Ms Meech said the "majority" of patients are "agreeable and appreciative" but a "minority spoil it for everybody".
She added: "When I come away from these incidents, they do really hurt you deep down."
Steph is one of our paramedics who, because of being her true self, has experienced abuse from the very people she has gone to help.— South East Coast Ambulance (@SECAmbulance) June 6, 2022
We're very proud of Steph but she, and all ambulance staff across the country,
deserve to #WorkWithoutFearhttps://t.co/xLwJk8rku3 pic.twitter.com/3a217jEoQp
The ambulance service has joined a movement called "Work Without Fear", which campaigns against violence and aggression aimed at ambulance staff.
She has become the local face of the national campaign, launched at the beginning of 2022.
Despite her struggles, Ms Meech said she feels "enlightened" that she can "be my true self".
"This is who I am and I've had to keep it hidden for such a long time," she said.
Since the ambulance service posted about Ms Meech's involvement in the campaign, messages of support have flooded in.
"I commend you for being true to yourself Steph, whilst carrying out a job caring for others and putting yourself at risk in your job (as all frontline workers do) on a daily basis. Go you! I wish you all the love and support in your life going forward," wrote one Twitter user.
Another said: "So glad you are happy now you are able to be your true self Steph. Haters will always hate something ! You rock, you’re doing a tough and amazing job so thank you (and all paramedics… in awe)".