New insights into gender identity in Australia

Sex-affirming surgery should be subsidised by Medicare without the need for a diagnosis of 'gender dysphoria', says Flinders University social studies expert Dr Damien Riggs.

In his new report on the healthcare experiences of Australian people whose differs from that expected of their natally assigned sex, Dr Riggs found respondents who had undertaken such surgery reported better mental health than those who desired surgery but had, for a range of reasons, been prevented from undertaking it.

"Under current Medicare rules it remains ambiguous as to the extent to which all sex-affirming surgeries are covered, especially in the absence of a diagnosis of gender dysphoria," Dr Riggs, a senior lecturer in the School of Social and Policy Studies, said.

"By comparison, a person who finds out they have the gene for can have a which is covered by Medicare, even without a current diagnosis of pathology," he said.

"It therefore seems unreasonable that a person who wants their breasts removed because they do not identify as female has to be diagnosed with a disorder."

Undertaken between 2012 and 2013, the study canvassed the health care experiences of 188 people whose gender identity differs from that expected of their natally assigned sex.

Among the findings, between 22 and 29 per cent of rated their experience with counsellors, and as "very negative", while only seven to 15 per cent considered their experience as "very positive".

Participants also reported discrimination from both physical and mental health practitioners, which was linked to lower levels of mental health.

Dr Riggs said the research highlighted the need for more training to educate all health professionals on transgender issues.

"The experiences were really varied – some people said their practitioner was very helpful and understanding, while others reported feeling ridiculed and told they had something wrong with them.

"One of the main reasons for this inconsistency is a lack of mandate for training in Australia, where professional degrees and associations are not required to provide training on transgender issues, which means that a lot of don't have any knowledge in this area."

While Dr Riggs welcomed the new Federal Government policy allowing transgendered people to change their sex on passports without surgery, he said the same rule should apply to birth certificates, which come under state laws that currently require surgery.

"For some people a passport may be less useful if they are not intending to travel, but birth certificates are for most people very significant, especially with regard to employment and education."

More information: www.genderidentityaustralia.com/?p=262

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Cyber buddy is better than 'no buddy'

7 hours ago

A Michigan State University researcher is looking to give exercise enthusiasts the extra nudge they need during a workout, and her latest research shows that a cyber buddy can help.

Offenders turn to mental health services 

12 hours ago

Adult criminal offenders in Western Australian are eight times more likely than non-offenders to use community-based mental health services in the year before their first sentence, a UWA study has found.

Deliberation is staunchest ally of selfishness

12 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Over the last two years, Yale psychologist David Rand and colleagues have investigated what makes people willing to help each other. Their latest research shows that while initial reactions ...

User comments