ACON announces ‘landmark’ strategy for improving trans and gender diverse health

ACON announces ‘landmark’ strategy for improving trans and gender diverse health
Image: Photo: John McRae / ACON. Supplied.

ACON has launched a major new strategy aimed at addressing key health barriers for trans and gender diverse people in New South Wales.

Announced this week to coincide with Sunday’s Trans Day of Visibility celebrations, A Blueprint for Improving the Health & Wellbeing of the Trans & Gender Diverse Community in NSW outlines health issues faced by TGD people and lays out priority areas to address.

We know that compared to the general population there are significant disparities in the health outcomes of trans and gender diverse people in many areas such as mental health issues, suicidality, self-harm, substance abuse, domestic violence and exclusion,” said ACON Board Director Atari Metcalf.

“And we know trans and gender diverse people face barriers when accessing effective and appropriate healthcare.

“This Blueprint aims to provide a comprehensive and coordinated action plan for governments, healthcare providers, organisations and services on improving the health and wellbeing of trans and gender diverse people,” Metcalf said.

Priority issues outlined in the Blueprint include improved access to patient-centred, depathologised gender-affirming health care, and inclusion for TGD services in the health system.

It also calls for reform in documentation processes to enable TGD people to get official identification without surgical intervention, and advocates for more training for employers and better inclusion for TGD people in educational and custodial settings.

At the strategy’s core is the championing of a strong TGD community advocating for their own needs and priorities. 

“All members of our communities should be benefiting from the gains we are making in other areas of LGBTQ health,” Metcalf said.

“With this Blueprint, we now have a clear mandate from the trans and gender diverse community to progress these priority areas.

“These action points articulate clearly a forward-looking agenda of work that needs to be done – not just for ACON, but for the health, legal and social sectors in NSW as well.

“In the spirit of Transgender Day of Visibility, a day that’s all about celebrating trans and gender diverse people and strengthening connect, ACON is proud to work with our communities in strengthening the health and wellbeing of TGD people.

“By working together, we can continue to improve the health outcomes of the TGD community.”

ACON’s TGD Community Health Strategic Plan Advisory Group was convened in June last year to guide the Blueprint’s development, bringing together trans and gender diverse community members and representatives from TGD organisations under Co-Chairs Mish Pony and Teddy Cook.

“From the outset, the development of the Blueprint has been informed by peer-led and peer-driven responses, engagement and consultation,” Pony said.

“It was fundamental to the development of this strategy that members of the TGD community outlined the issues pertinent to them.

“The community has now set out clear health priorities and it is now incumbent on government, healthcare providers, NGOs, researchers, healthcare professional associations, educational institutions and other stakeholders to heed the call and further improve TGD inclusion within their policies and services.”

“We are grateful to the members of the ACON TGD Advisory Group for their leadership and determination in producing a landmark document that will shape how ACON, advocates and the broader health, legal and social systems of NSW respond to the health and wellbeing needs of our TGD people,” added Cook.

“And we also thank the many community members who participated in the various consultation activities including the online survey, the community meetings in Sydney and regional NSW and the stakeholder interviews – your input and insights have been invaluable throughout this process.”

Last week, Victoria’s 2018 LGBTI Person of the Year Jeremy Wiggins launched the Churchill Recommendations, a series of best practice guidelines for the provision of trans and gender diverse health services derived from research conducted abroad as part of a Churchill Foundation fellowship.

To read ACON’s Blueprint in full, click here.

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