Delegates at the Tasmanian Labor Party’s state conference have voted in favour of lobbying for gender confirmation surgery to be coverable by Medicare, as well as the reinstatement of Safe Schools.

Tasmanian delegates will take the issue to Shadow Health Minister Catherine King at Labor’s national conference in December to request she commit to the idea, The Examiner reported.

Advocate Dana Endelmanis spoke to the conference about the difficult of reconciling her gender identity while growing up in Tasmania’s north-west.

“Trans, intersex and non-binary Australians continue to be denied fundamental healthcare rights and continue to be told that many procedures which are life-changing, and in some cases life-saving, are nothing more than cosmetic and elective procedures,” she said.

“That is an insult to the concept of universal healthcare.

“What gender-diverse Tasmanians want is not to be placed on a pedestal or to be given special dispensation but to be afforded the same basic rights that we deem to be universal,” said Endelmanis.

Unsurprisingly, the Australian Christian Lobby’s state branch slammed the proposal, calling gender confirmation surgery “harmful”.

“It’s being touted as a policy initiative to allow transgender Tasmanians free access to ‘life-changing’ procedures, a claim that has no scientific basis,” said Mark Brown, the ACL’s Tasmanian director.

Earlier in the weekend, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten spoke to the conference to address the increasing healthcare access issues faced by Tasmanians.

“You wait longer, you pay more and you have to travel further,” he said.

Shorten also labelled the Liberal Party a “collection of has-beens, never-weres and Eric Abetz”.

Endelmanis’ advocacy has made news in the past, lobbying the party’s Tasmanian conference in 2016 over sex work law reform and legitimisation of sex work.

Her speech at this year’s conference was reportedly met with a standing ovation.

Conference delegates also voted for the Tasmanian Labor branch to lobby the federal party on the restoration of funding to, and reimplementation of, the anti-LGBTI bullying program Safe Schools on a federal level should Labor win at the next election.

The latest opinion polls make the latter seem far more likely than not, with federal Labor leading the Coalition on a two party-preferred basis of 56 to 44.

In June, that Tasmanian government committed to removing the requirement that trans people divorce before their gender can be recognised on their birth certificate, but also called for reforms to include an end to forced surgery requirements for gender marker changes.

“But there are other reforms, at least as important, that have been waiting too long to be addressed,” wrote trans Tasmanian and LGBTI rights advocate Martine Delaney.

“I’m talking about removing the requirement for trans people to have surgery before our true gender identity can be represented on birth certificates.

“In short, I’m talking about full equality for trans, intersex and gender diverse people, not just marriage equality.”

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