Twenty10’s Cristyn Davies calls for greater focus on transgender healthcare at UN Human Rights Council 

Twenty10’s Cristyn Davies calls for greater focus on transgender healthcare at UN Human Rights Council 
Image: Cristyn Davies at the United Nations in Geneva this month Photo: supplied

LGBTQI youth support service Twenty10 board member Cristyn Davies has spoken in support of the healthcare rights of transgender and gender diverse people in Australia at the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, being held right now in Geneva Switzerland.

“We call on the Australian Government to work with relevant civil society organisations and health experts to improve healthcare for trans and gender diverse people,” Davies told UN delegates.

“Reducing discrimination within health, legal, social, education and community settings is essential to improved mental health and wellbeing. For young people, accessing timely, culturally safe medical gender affirmation through publicly funded multidisciplinary services is critical.”

“High costs and long wait lists prohibit timely access to medical affirmation, increasing the risk of poor mental health,” she told the summit.

Davies, who is also a senior research fellow in Child and Adolescent Health at the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, is one of six Australians chosen by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to represent Australian civil society at the summit.

Davies also used the event to call for the banning of conversion therapy, and the removal of anti-discrimination law exemptions that allow religious schools and universities in Australia to discriminate against LGBTQI staff and students.

Davies has also recommended a human rights-based approach to data collection such as including questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in the Australian 2021 census.

She believes countries will benefit from understanding more about the prevalence and experience of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, and, in turn, better practices can be implemented to improve health and education.

In addition to advocating for LGBTQI rights, Davies also used the summit to call for the Australian Government to act on the high rates of cervical cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Her calls to action have been endorsed by the Human Rights Council of Australia and her statements were co-sponsored by the Australian Lesbian Medical Association and the Human Rights Law Centre, and supported by LGBTQI NGOs, and medical associations.

At the UN Human Rights Council, Davies is also working in support of the renewal of a global mandate to protect people against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“My role, as I see it, is to advocate in a global human rights forum to the Australian government to work with LGBT organisations and health experts to ensure the removal of discrimination and violence in Australia,” Davies said earlier.

In an historic vote in June 2016, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution to create the role of a human rights Independent Expert’ for the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

The role of the Independent Expert (SOGI), currently held by Costa Rican lawyer Victor Madrigal-Borloz, is up for renewal and Australia is one of 47 countries eligible to vote to continue that mandate.

“If Australia supports this mandate and resolutions advocating against violence and discrimination faced by LGBT people and women, then we need to start at home,” said Davies.

Sixty-nine countries still criminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts, and there were approximately 2982 reported killings of trans and gender diverse people in 72 countries worldwide between January 2008 and September 2018.

As a senior health researcher specialising in child and adolescent health, Davies said she is motivated to address the issue of health inequity.

“I’m very passionate about it. This is what gets me out of bed in the morning and why I take on volunteer leadership positions and seek out advocacy opportunities outside my academic work. I really love community engagement,” Davies said.

The 41st United Nations Human Rights Council Session winds up on July 12th 2019, upon which the renewal of the Independent Expert (SOGI) will be decided.

“This exceptional work undertaken by Cristyn is directly aligned with Twenty10’s vision as an organisation – to ensure our communities live in a world free from discrimination,” said Twenty10 co-executive director, Jain Moralee.

“Twenty10 could not be prouder of our board director and colleague Cristyn Davies, and her global advocacy for LGBTQ people.”

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