A new Australian trans health action group based in Queensland held its first meeting in Brisbane last week to discuss anxiety and depression problems linked to gender identity issues.

Organiser Melody Moore said she wanted to establish the action group to launch a nationwide media campaign to lobby the federal Government to reform Medicare to cover costs of life-saving
medical treatments and surgery for trans, sex and gender diverse Australians.

“Urgent action is needed because there are trans people in Australia living with extremely high levels of anxiety and depression who are driven by the despair and desperation of not being able to get funding to access surgical and medical treatments, and often end up harming themselves or turning to suicide,” Moore said.

“These issues often get swept under the rug and many of them eventually end up on disability support, like me.”

Moore, who works with the Cairns Transgender Support Group, also hopes the group can tackle misconceptions about gender reassignment surgery.

“There is a belief … that medical services and surgical procedures for transsexuals are cosmetic surgery for a lifestyle we choose, but the truth is these services are essential to the health and wellbeing of a trans person,” she explained.

Moore has been using her own story to help inform others of the realities of trans individuals in Queensland.

Having survived two suicide attempts, she was put on a disability support pension as the result of anxiety and depression as she continued to repress her gender issues until 2010.

She said she feared coming out because of the intolerance she witnessed in South East Queensland during the 1960s and 1970s.

Now two years into her transition at the age of 49, she said she is struggling to find funds to pay for her sex reassignment surgery.

“I don’t have a mental illness, however, I suffer from the same non-psychotic mental health issues as a direct result of having gender identity disorder,” she said.

“But there are many more trans Australians who have no choice but to rely on Centrelink for welfare payments that barely cover their living costs.”

INFO: Contact the Australian Trans Health Action Group at info@transcairns.org

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