AUSTRALIA’S first peer-led trans and gender diverse health service was launched in Melbourne to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

Equinox was created by the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) and will offer the trans and gender diverse community general medical care, mental health checks, a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) clinic, support for trans people living with HIV, and sex work checkups.

There are also plans following the launch for the GP service to expand, with Hepatitis C treatment available soon, and alcohol and other drug services to be introduced in the future.

Developing Equinox has been the first activity of VAC’s Trans and Gender Diverse Advisory Group.

Advisory group member Margot Fink spoke at the launch, highlighting the importance of trans-inclusive health services.

“Sometimes accessing medical care isn’t always the most comfortable thing for trans people,” she said.

“Many doctors might not have knowingly had trans patients before, and they might not have the experience to support us properly.

“Even worse, some doctors are openly transphobic.”

Fink said it’s exciting to see VAC taking steps to better support the trans community.

“All too often trans people can feel we have reduced autonomy and limited control over our lives, so putting trans people back in the driver’s seat is incredibly exciting,” she said.

VAC’s Project Lead for trans health Jeremy Wiggins said that as a peer-led service, it’s the first of its kind in Australia.

“This is a celebration, this is not a place where people need to feel afraid or apprehensive about accessing a health service where you might be asked inappropriate questions or be made to feel uncomfortable or to be invalidated,” he said.

“We are one service that will hopefully add to the range of services that we work with.

“We want to ensure every trans and gender diverse person gets everything they need in terms of mental health, sexual health, their physical health, to enjoy their life and to fully participate in society… that’s really important.”

Equinox is at 175 Rose Street in Fitzroy.

 

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