Sex is a biological fact, the NHS declared this morning. Seriously, if the health service was ever in any doubt about that then no wonder that we have ended up in such a mess over sex and gender.

Personally, I would ban the word ‘gender’ from law and policy, and return it to what it did best – classifying foreign nouns. The headlines, on the other hand, have pointed the finger at transsexuals. Trans women will be banned from women-only wards, according to the Telegraph. At this stage I need to declare an interest – I have a wife and daughter and I would not be happy about either of them being required to share such an intimate space with people who were ‘born male’ and remain male.

The trans debate has held up politics, and exasperated growing numbers of people

I know just too much about the trans community, and how wide and diverse the group of people that shelter under the ‘trans umbrella’ is. Society has changed massively since I transitioned in 2012. Since the push for self-identification, it has been impossible to distinguish between those who might have some sort of psychological disorder, the seriously deluded, the chancers and those with nefarious intent. To keep women safe – and comfortable – we need to stay out, all of us.

That said, such a policy – if implemented – would cause a new set of issues for hard-pressed hospital managers. Trans women were originally assigned to women’s wards and not men’s not because of policy but because it made common sense. If someone looks more like a women that a man, even in the shower, then it is absurd to ignore the evidence of everyone’s eyes. Treating the sexes equally, it also raises the question of where to place trans men who look far more like men than their own sex. They might be biologically female, but it’s not the way things appear.

This is the problem. We do not need simplistic solutions, we need ‘common sense’ solutions. While the NHS might state – correctly – that sex is biology and ultimately comes down to the presence or absence of a Y chromosome, genetics are not in most people’s minds when they assess who is a man and who is a woman. If the NHS goes against that evolved instinct then new absurdities will be created.

The solution has already been mooted: trans people could be put in private rooms. That, incidentally, was my own experience when I was admitted to hospital for a routine procedure a few years ago. No fuss was made, arrangements were made and everyone was happy. On another occasion I was housed in a mixed-sex ward where everyone had a private room. The new hospital had been designed that way. It makes sense not to duplicate every ward – one for women and one for men – but give everyone privacy. It’s normal in private medicine and normal in other advanced countries. If it’s not OK to be forced to share with the opposite sex, why is it OK to be forced to share with our own?

The trans debate has held up politics, and exasperated growing numbers of people. It has been a distraction – luxury politics – that has had a debilitating effect on policy as activists ruled the roost. But if the end result is a move towards privacy for everyone then maybe some good has come out of it. Good policy is good policy for all. It may be more expensive but if it is good enough for transsexuals – and the wealthy in private hospitals – then surely it is good enough for everyone.

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