Counting Ourselves: The health and wellbeing of trans and non-binary people in Aotearoa New Zealand

Dr

Jaimie Veale

Dr. Soma Dey is an Associate Professor of Women & Gender Studies, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
New Zealander

Year of research: 2019
Published on: Transgender Health Research Lab

Dr

Veale's Recommendations

  • Provide access to gender-affirming healthcare – provide clear pathways, based on informed consent and self-determination, for timely access to gender-affirming healthcare through the public health system, including hair removal, puberty blockers, hormones, fertility preservation, voice therapy, counselling and mental health support and gender-affirming surgeries.
  • Ensure health services respect gender diversity – provide mandatory training for staff in DHBs, primary health organisations, disability support services and residential care facilities on supporting trans and non-binary people and promote health service environments that are respectful of gender diversity and are trans positive.
  • Better protect trans and non-binary people from discrimination – provide comprehensive resources and training about the human rights issues and protections for trans and non-binary people for health providers, schools, employers, government agencies and the wider public.

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Key Findings

Our findings illustrate the stark contrast and health inequities between trans and non-binary people and the general population, especially in the areas of mental health and wellbeing, including the very high rates of psychological distress and suicide attempts within our communities.

One of the goals of this research project was to explore possible reasons for these health inequities. This report shows many trans and non-binary people cannot access medically necessary gender-affirming care. This care is often simply not available within the public health system. Other barriers we identified include cost, lack of information about how to access services, long waiting lists and gaps in health providers’ knowledge about gender affirming care. Participants described other barriers they faced when they were trying to access healthcare. These included being asked unnecessary or inappropriate questions and being referred to by the incorrect name or gender, which meant that many participants delayed or avoided seeking care.

Our findings illustrate the huge personal impact of the stigma that people face for being trans or non-binary. Counting Ourselves participants reported widespread discrimination, especially in public places, trying to find a job or housing and at work. Most did not have the correct gender marker on their identity documents, and many of these participants reported that this resulted in harassment and other negative and stressful experiences in many areas of their lives. We also found high rates of harassment and violence against trans and non-binary people, including by family members and partners.

We found reasons to be hopeful for the future. Trans and non-binary youth were more likely to have grown up with a family/wh_nau member who helped them to legally transition or researched how best to support them. Participants who were supported by their family/wh_nau were also more likely to have positive mental health.

Additional applications

This research was cited as evidence in the New Zealand Government’s announcement of increased funding for LGBTQIA young people’s mental health.

Methodology

Research findings came from a survey of 1,178 participants who all identified as trans or binary, aged 14 years or older and currently living in New Zealand.

Researchers should be aware Counting Ourselves is based on a convenience sample where any trans or nonbinary person could participate, which means we cannot know for sure to what extent it is representative of the general population.

Reference this research

Veale J, Byrne J, Tan K, Guy S, Yee A, Nopera T & Bentham R (2019) Counting Ourselves: The health and wellbeing of trans and non-binary people in Aotearoa New Zealand. Transgender Health Research Lab, University of Waikato: Hamilton NZ.

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Dr

Jaimie Veale

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Senior Lecturer

Year of research: 2019
Published on: Transgender Health Research Lab

Dr. Soma Dey is an Associate Professor of Women & Gender Studies, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
New Zealander