A new vision for transgender healthcare in Aotearoa New Zealand has been outlined in an article published in the New Zealand Medical Journal today. Authored by Dr Jaimie Veale and colleagues from The Professional Association for Transgender Health Aotearoa (PATHA), the article proposes ways to improve the healthcare system to better meet the needs of transgender people.
Dr Veale, PATHA president, Rutherford Discovery Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Waikato, says the need for improvements in transgender healthcare is urgent:
"Like anyone else, transgender people want to be able to access healthcare that they need, and if possible at their local doctor or hospital” said Dr Jaimie Veale. “Currently, that’s not possible for many transgender people and leaves them and their families with their lives on hold, trying to fundraise for medically necessary care."
Dr Rona Carroll, PATHA Vice-president, GP and Senior Lecturer in Primary Health Care and General Practice at the University of Otago, emphasises the importance of collaboration and transparency in improving transgender healthcare:
“It makes such a difference to my transgender patients when they have information about the medical and surgical steps available to affirm their gender. I see the positive impact that access to gender affirming healthcare makes to transgender people’s lives”, said Dr Carroll. “The new health reforms are a chance to make access to healthcare fairer, by removing the current postcode lottery where the services you receive depend on where you live.”
The vision proposed by PATHA centres around creating a new transgender health resourcing hub that operates under a Te Tiriti o Waitangi framework. This hub would make information, mentoring, and education available to healthcare providers as well as transgender people and their families around the country. Extra funding is also needed to support GPs and other primary care providers and ensure better access to gender affirming surgeries.
The resourcing hub would also teach healthcare providers how to help transgender people better. Peer health navigators, who have gone through similar experiences would help guide and support others. The plan also includes making sure that everyone knows how to access this care, and that transgender communities are involved in making sure it all works well.
Dr Veale further explains that PATHA’s vision is that the health system reforms enable best practice to happen across Aotearoa: "Let’s learn from the good practices that are already occurring regionally and create a national resourcing hub to coordinate and share what’s working well.”
The article can be read in full on the New Zealand Medical Journal website and is available on the PATHA website here.