Delegates at the country’s first ever Trans Health Symposium voted unanimously to create the Professional Association for Transgender Health Aotearoa.
Over 200 health professionals and members of transgender communities attended the event at the University of Waikato. The level of interest in the Symposium went far beyond organisers’ expectations, requiring them to move it to a larger venue in the weeks before registrations closed.
The event included overviews of two large University of Waikato research projects: the Honour Project Aotearoa and the Counting Ourselves survey. Other presentations focused on ways to address barriers to gender affirming care and mental health support around the Aotearoa, including through Māori and Pasifika community-led health initiatives (FINE and Gender Minorities Aotearoa), and by working with children, youth and their whānau.
Invited speakers included Dr Ruth Pearce from the UK, who presented research on pregnancy among transgender people and Dr Rita Yang who discussed surgical pathways in New Zealand.
Publication of a new transgender health guideline for New Zealand was celebrated. “This guideline provides clear recommendations to District Health Boards about the gender affirming healthcare services that should be provided locally for transgender people”, said lead author, Dr Jeannie Oliphant.
A panel discussion involving clinicians representing 13 different District Health Boards revealed a concerning lack of equity in the healthcare services available across New Zealand. “Currently only the Auckland DHBs provide publicly available information regarding local service provision”, noted Dr Oliphant, “there is an urgent need for other DHBs to provide clear pathways for consumers wanting to access gender affirming healthcare regionally”.
Over 70 delegates voting to establish the new Professional Association for Transgender Health Aotearoa (PATHA). “This organisation was formed to provide education, networking, and collaboration for everyone working professionally to advance the health of transgender people in Aotearoa”, said inaugural PATHA President, Dr Jaimie Veale.