Raising awareness of transgender health and diversity

Trans Day of Visibility, held on 31 March, is an annual international celebration of trans pride, recognising the experiences and achievements of trans and gender diverse people.

While this day is a celebration, it is also a time for raising awareness of the discrimination that transgender people continue to face.

In Australia, a disproportionate number of LGBTIQ+ people experience poorer mental health outcomes as well as discrimination, harassment and hostility in many parts of everyday life, impacting access to health services.

In particular, transgender and gender diverse people are routinely misgendered, contributing to high rates of poor mental health among these groups.

In a personal account from Kim Balfour of Transfolk of WA, she tells us that medical misgendering occurs when language is used to address someone in a way that does not match their gender identity, which can be a common occurrence among administrative staff and clinicians alike.

Similarly, Health Pathways GP Clinical Editor Irene Dolan’s Misgendering and Experiences of Stigma in Health Care Settings for Transgender People, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, explores how health care systems can perpetuate stigma against transgender and gender diverse people and can adversely affect their health.

It is for these reasons WA Primary Health Alliance is developing what are known as Health Pathways relating to transgender health and gender diversity. These will help clinical staff provide safe and appropriate health care to trans and gender diverse communities.

General Manager Strategy and Engagement Chris Kane said WA Primary Health Alliance had an important leadership role to advocate for safe, inclusive and culturally appropriate services for LGBTIQ+ people.

“From a healthcare perspective, it is critical that clinicians and other healthcare providers are using inclusive and appropriate language when meeting with transgender and gender diverse people,” Chris said.

“We know that errors like misgendering increase the risk of adverse impact on health and mental health and create barriers to accessing health and social care services.”

In 2019, WA Primary Health Alliance achieved Rainbow Tick accreditation, which involves meeting the six national standards of LGBTI inclusive practice. The Rainbow Tick signals that an organisation has reached a high standard of diversity and inclusiveness.

“Our Rainbow Tick journey aligns with who we are as an organisation and what we’re all about – shaping, strengthening and sustaining a health system that works for everyone,” Chris said.

If you are a clinician and would like to find out more about HealthPathways, please contact our team at healthpathways@wapha.org.au