Cairns International Trans Conference
Evie Ryder reports back on the Queensland Transgender Conference in Cairns and says it’s a critical step towards better health for trans people.
Cairns is leading the way for Transgender health in Australia with the success of the Queensland Transgender, Sistergirl and Gender Diverse Conference held August 24-25. The conference attracted over 160 participants from not only Queensland but also interstate and internationally. There was a great mixture of community members and medical professionals attending, including the renowned Professor Milton Diamond from Hawaii and activist Peter Hyndal from A Gender Agender ACT.
Currently the Queensland Government does not count or acknowledge the existence of diverse sex and gender people in its community and does not provide any funding for transgender health. The conference provided the opportunity to celebrate and make visible the health needs of diverse sex and gender people in Queensland.
This conference was the first opportunity for a Thailand surgeon who specialises in sex reassignment surgery (SRS) to speak to such a group in Australia. Dr Sanguan Kunaporn said according to his research one in five hundred people are of Diverse Sex and Gender.
Federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler, who also attended the conference, said: “This conference is very important for Australia and I will continue to support trans health through the National LGBT Health Alliance.”
Other noted politicians also made favourable comments. Warren Entsch, federal Member for Leichhardt in far north Queensland, said, “I firmly believe in the need to improve health for transgender people as a nationally important issue.” While Senator Louise Pratt from WA noted: “All government departments need to have a trans inclusion policy similar to the department of foreign affairs so transgender people do not have to have life changing surgery just to access legal rights.”
Shelley Argent, national spokesperson for PFLAG, released PFLAG’s new resource to support parents of transgender children at the conference and highlighted the work that PFLAG is doing to support parents of members of the Transgender and Sex and Gender Diverse community.
The conference also provided a rare opportunity for Sistergirls – Indigenous Trans women – to meet. Sistergirls travelled from right across the country to attend. Healthy Communities’ 2Spirits program launched a new Sistergirl awareness raising resource.
Key points raised at the conference included:
• To promote Transgender health as a cutting edge, exciting and rewarding area of medicine to be involved in;
• To form a Transgender skilled professional medical network of GP and mental health workers to act as peer supports and share skills to medical professionals across Australia;
• To lobby for the reopening of Gender Clinics in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast;
• More Transgender people are having children and will need advice and support from the medical profession;
• Puberty blocking and cross-sex hormonal medication to be available to people under 18 without having to go through the Family Court system;
• Medicare needs to fund surgery for trans people as an essential medical requirement;
• There are more genders then just male and female;
• To improve mental health and reduce high trans suicide rates.
In the words of Prof Milton Diamond, "Nature loves variety. Unfortunately, society hates it". This conference has been a critical step to highlight the importance of Trans Health issues and reducing stigma and discrimination.