General Medical Council (GMC) say doctors should respect the right of a patient to alter their sex on medical records. 

The Telegraph reported that a group of senior medical researchers, led by the University of St Andrews, said there was clear evidence that biological sex and gender are both powerful risk factors for “virtually every disease, and affect every organ”. 

The research concluded that sex differences in drug metabolism were well-recognised while gender significantly impacts how a person engages with treatment.  The research document stated that “Sex and gender are not synonymous.” While sex relates to biology: the chromosomes, hormones, and reproductive organs, gender relates to societal roles, behaviours and expectations. 

Dr Margaret McCartney, of the school of medicine at the University of St Andrews, said:

“There are many instances of sex and gender being confused by the research community and society more broadly. 

“Unless we identify and count categories correctly, we will end up with errors which serves all populations poorly, including minority populations.” 

Professor Susan Bewley, emeritus professor (honorary) in obstetrics and women’s health at King’s College London, said:

“Medical care requires an understanding of the difference between sex and gender categories; untangling them is crucial for safe, dignified, and effective healthcare of all groups. 

“Avoidable harm may result when they are conflated – for example, if sex-specific laboratory reference ranges are used for people whose gender is recorded but not their biological sex or hormone prescription.” 

It is reported that both the General Medical Council and Public Health England have said doctors should respect the right of a patient to alter their sex on medical records. 

However, whilst the Royal College of GPs already recommends that sex and gender are recorded separately in medical records the standard NHS systems reportedly do not allow for this, the authors argued.

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