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Transgender paramedic abused and spit on

Steph Meech
Steph MeechPhoto: NHS

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.

“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.

 

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