‘Dangerous’: LGBTIQ Tasmanians are struggling in healthcare

tasmania premier jeremy rockliff tasmania healthcare
Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff (left), rainbow flags on Hobart Town Hall (right).

Tasmania’s LGBTIQ+ community have reported serious gaps in gender-affirming healthcare and mental health services, with discrimination still a problem.

The Tasmanian government has released a new LGBTIQ+ survey, the largest ever of its kind. The survey comes as Tasmania commemorates the 25th anniversary of decriminalising homosexuality this month.

The results will provide a new statewide LGBTIQ+ framework and action plan, the government has said.

Of the 800 people surveyed, many noted the significant cultural and social changes that Tasmania has undergone over the past two decades.

However, they said areas of inequality remain for the LGBTQIA+ community.

The inaccessibility of mental health care in Tasmania was a major issue, as well as a lack of gender-affirming healthcare for trans and gender diverse people.

Tasmania health staff need LGBTIQ+ training

Many participants who did access mental health care sometimes found professionals lacked knowledge in LGBTIQ+ care.

“You might be waiting on the list for psychologists for so long, but that particular psychologist may not have any form of training to deal with queer issues,” one person said.

Participants were also particularly vocal about how accessing appropriate, sensitive healthcare for trans and gender diverse people was incredibly challenging.

They said the healthcare experience for the Tasmania’s trans community was “problematic at best”.

“Unfortunately you have to go to [a sexual health clinic] for gender stuff [even if it] is not a sexual health issue,” one respondent said.

“We need a designated gender centre. Having to wait over 8 months to get an appointment with the psych at the gender centre or pay $280 and have to attend a paediatric clinic to see him for a gender-related referral is totally inappropriate,” another said.

A transgender women recalled seeing a urologist for a prostate exam who assaulted her by inappropriately probing her vagina.

“He later ‘complimented me’ on the ‘work’ and asked who my surgeon was,” a participant said.

“This felt invasive and creepy.”

Many survey respondents agreed on the need for anti-discrimination training for health professionals.

“I met a homophobic psychiatrist who gave me dangerous advice. He refused to see me again after he found out I was gay,” one person said.

Another recalled, “I have overheard transphobic conversations between health professionals, for instance, which made me feel unwelcome and powerless.”

One in 20 LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians went through conversion practices

Equality Tasmania’s Rodney Croome said the survey showed Tasmania’s progress since it was a crime to be gay. But it also shows the challenges that remain for LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians, he said.

Croome said the survey determined that one in 20 LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians have been through formal conversion practices. That’s a significant finding that reinforced the need for these practices to be banned in Tasmania.

“While many survey respondents said Tasmania is a wonderful place to live, they also made it clear the Government must do much more to ensure LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians have the same quality of life as others,” Croome said.

“Key priorities identified in the survey were more resources for mental health, more training for health care providers, more inclusive schools, safety on the street and at home, and greater support for rural, elderly and transgender members of the LGBTIQ+ community.

“Overall, a strong message that came through from the project was the need for genuine engagement, meaningful action and leadership on LGBTIQ+ issues from the state government.”

‘Still much to be done’

Working it Out CEO Lynn Jarvis (pictured below) said while Tasmania should celebrate its progress, the LGBTIQ+ community remain disadvantaged.

“There is still much to be done. It’s time for our communities to get the services and supports they need and deserve,” Dr Jarvis said.

“If I or any other members of the Tasmanian LGBTIQ+ reference group are here in three years’ time lamenting once again that despite all this work, all the evidence, and all the goodwill in this room today, little has changed, then we will have failed LGBTIQ+ Tasmanians in the worst possible way.

lynn jarvis working it out tasmania lgbtiq healthcare
Image: Ruth Forrest

“I am hopeful instead that in 25 years’ time there will be another gathering marking the release of this survey and the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

“What will be talked about then is how this survey, like decriminalisation, marked an important milestone for change.”

Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff (pictured top) spoke at the launch of the report and acknowledged Tasmania’s “shameful” treatment of the LGBTIQ+ community in the past.

He said the survey had highlighted several key issues and would help inform government policies.

For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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