A transgender paramedic in Sussex in England’s South East has been the target of abuse at the hands of patients.
Steph Meech, one of England’s first out transgender paramedics, works with South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb). She’s been a paramedic for over 20 years.
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Since coming out, Meech has been the victim of verbal and physical abuse from patients.
“I’ve had times where I’m treating people and I get spat at, just for who I am,” she told the BBC. “As I come to the door usually I get ‘What are you?’ It’s really not okay. I’m a paramedic first and foremost and I’m here to help.”
Across the U.K., there were 11,749 reports of abuse or attacks on ambulance staff in 2021.
Secamb has joined a national #WorkWithoutFear campaign to target the growing aggression and violence.
Meech, 53, has become one of the faces of the campaign.
— Steph Meech 🚑 (@MeechSteph1) May 30, 2022
“The majority of people we go to are so agreeable and appreciative of the help that the ambulance service brings,” Meech said. “It’s just that few minority that spoil it for everybody. When I come away from these incidents, they do really hurt you deep down.”
David Monk, a violence reduction support officer at Secamb, said both paramedics and call handlers have been abused.
“It’s not acceptable for emergency service workers to come to work and be faced with violence. They are normal members of the public like everybody else. We are supporting our staff when they are subjected to the abuse, to get the [perpetrators] to court where necessary and get the highest possible sanction we can.”
Meech says she feels “enlightened” since transitioning. “I can be my true self. This is who I am and I’ve had to keep it hidden for such a long time.”
Her story has received an outpouring of support online.
Steph Meech is an absolute saint https://t.co/ZJOiskNMpw
— flame haired pixie •X• (@kittyaurora) June 10, 2022
Fully solidarity with Steph Meech against such transphobic abuse and hostilityhttps://t.co/78VdE33Idx
— Tell MAMA UK (@TellMamaUK) June 10, 2022
Regardless of the abuse she faces as a transgender woman, Paramedic Steph Meech remains on duty helping everyone no matter their self-righteous opinion. @MeechSteph1 is reason to be LGBTQ proud. #HateWontWin #Pride2022 #pride https://t.co/lc5slpiZBY
— Elizabeth 1023 (@1023_elizabeth) June 10, 2022
A complete inspiration 🏳️⚧️
— Jules Lockett 💙 (@juleslockett06) May 30, 2022
Only right you can express your true self, shame on all those who have been abusive / refused your care.
You are amazing 🏳️⚧️
— sam 🫁🌱 (@sampilsworth) May 30, 2022
What an inspiration 👏👏🙏🥰🌈xx
— Claire M 💙🌈 (@StudentParaMum) May 30, 2022
People actually care what their paramedic looks like??!! For real??!!! If people ‘refused your care’, then then never really needed any care in the first place! Wishing you all the very best in your career 👏👏👏
— David Edwards (@Davey2Times) May 30, 2022
I'm really sorry you have faced such ignorance and transphobia; unacceptable in any setting, but you are simply there to care.
Your #ThinGreenLine & #Team999 colleagues have your back
— Madmouse 🦼🌈 #BlackLivesMatter (@madmouse42) May 30, 2022
Well done for being so brave. Your patients are lucky to have you. 💜
— Yolandé Smuts-Gardner (@GardnerSmuts) May 30, 2022
Am 100% behind you Sister. Keep doing what we are good at.
— Africa Paramedic 🇮🇪 (@markturner30) May 30, 2022