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Sunday 11 October 2015

Jan Logie: "Nutty" talk causing more harm

Posted in: Features
By Jan Logie - 20th May 2015

Green MP and transgender advocate Jan Logie is disgusted at the Health Minister describing free access to gender reassignment surgery as a “nutty idea”.

Read: Free surgery bid "nutty" - Health Minister

I was frankly disgusted to hear the Minister for Health say that funding gender reassignment surgeries is a nutty idea.

A recent study found that in New Zealand one per cent of young people identified themselves as transgender, and three per cent were unsure of their gender identity.

Trans is usually used to describe people who were assigned a sex/gender at birth and identify with a different gender identity. Not everyone identifies as either male or female.

Many trans people, especially those who do not ‘pass’ as their affirmed gender, experience high levels of discrimination. People see this and it makes the process of coming out, seeking medical assistance if it’s available or even living as themselves very hard for many people. This sadly has resulted in lost lives and lost potential. The harm is not from their identity it is from the discrimination and barriers to accessing health treatments.

All because of ignorance.

For many people reassignment surgery makes living as themselves possible in the same way other health treatment enables other people to regain their lives.

Only three or four surgeries are funded in New Zealand every two years. The waiting list is longer than most people’s life expectancy. Some people are able to borrow or fundraise to go overseas, often all alone, for operations. This can increase the risk of post-operative complications.

Other people can’t raise the money and are say they feel completely stuck – sure that no-one will give them a job looking like they do or that they will be bullied for being themselves and that this will severely compromise their mental health.

We’ve been told that the Human Rights Act prevents discrimination on the basis of gender identity. This policy is not clear enough but we have been told again recently that the government believes trans people are protected from discrimination by this Act.

Georgina Beyer gave trans people all around the world hope that it was possible to fight discrimination and for them to be recognised for who they are rather than their gender identity.

It makes me very sad to then hear the Minister of Health say he believes funding surgeries is a nutty idea. It makes me sad that other politicians in Labour, including Andrew Little, also dismissed the issue.

This is a very real issue that is causing harm. There are a number of areas that need an increased health budget and this is one.

I will be writing to the Minister for Health with some suggested readings because suggesting an accepted health service is nutty is frankly causing more harm.

This post originally appeared on Jan Logie’s Facebook page

Note: If you feel like you need to talk to someone, remember OUTLineNZ is there to take your call on 0800 OUTLINE (6885463).
Jan Logie - 20th May 2015

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