Healthcare community gathers to learn and improve services for trans and gender diverse people

Dr Rebecca Szabo, Grand Round co-ordinator at the Women's, addresses attendees.
13 August 2019 |

Over 160 people including healthcare professionals and community members attended a live panel discussion on trans and gender diverse healthcare last Friday [9 August], with the online broadcast receiving over 1,000 views.

A report from the Victorian Government last year said trans and gender diverse people are ‘one of the most vulnerable and high needs groups in Victoria’. They experience very high rates of mental illness, stigma, discrimination, and disadvantage.

The event, organised by the Royal Women’s Hospital, focused on how health services can be more inclusive and sensitive to the needs of trans and gender diverse people.

Leading the discussion was a panel of trans and gender diverse experts comprising people with lived experience as well as medical practitioners from general practice, Austin Health, Monash Health, the Royal Children’s Hospital and both Monash University and the University of Melbourne.

Obstetrician/gynaecologist and medical educator at the Women’s, Dr Rebecca Szabo, opened the event and said:

“With these larger health advocacy panel discussions, the Women's has taken the step to provide broader perspectives on advocacy within healthcare.

“The Women’s acknowledges it has not been a leader in this space and has much to learn. The intention of this panel was to start a conversation and for the Women’s to listen and learn so that we provide a safe and respectful space for those who are not cis-gendered, to humanise and not pathologise.”

Harriet Shing MP, Victoria’s Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health and Equality, opened the panel discussion.

“These sorts of conversations are important because they provide a way to improve access to peer navigators and to place-based specific solutions for healthcare,” Harriet said.

“This is about dignity, and it’s about the opposite of shame, which is pride. And for too long, the trans community have not had access to the latter and instead have endured the former.

“There are a range of initiatives that we are supporting as a government here in Victoria, often in the face of hostile opposition. We look forward to that work continuing.

“The work goes on, and it goes on in a collective way – hopefully with respect, innovation and collaboration at its very heart.”

The Grand Round was moderated by Jacob Thomas – a 29 year-old non-binary person who currently sits as the Coordinator of the Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network.

Jacob was joined by:

  • Sally Goldner AM - an educator and transgender advocate whose involvement in Victoria’s queer community has spanned more than 20 years.
  • Dr Ada Cheung - an endocrinologist at Austin Health who currently leads the Trans Medical Research group and works with trans community members to improve health outcomes.
  • Dr Ruth McNair AM - a general practitioner and founding director of Northside Clinic who has clinical and research experience with lesbian and bisexual women’s mental health, sexual health, same-sex parenting, and LGBT health care and homelessness.
  • Associate Professor Michelle Telfer - a Paediatrician and Adolescent Medicine Specialist, currently the Head of Department of Adolescent Medicine at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) Melbourne and Director of the RCH Gender Service.
  • Dr Jaco Erasmus - a consultant psychiatrist and the head of the Gender Clinic at Monash Health - the largest state-funded clinic in Australia. 

Previous health advocacy panel discussions at the Women's have included Women in Medicine (March 2019) and advocating for asylum seekers and refugees (November 2018).  

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