Health care inequities for transgender and gender-diverse people in Australia

Judith Pembleton, Queensland Regional Meeting

Gender diversity is often presented in the media as a recent ‘trend’ or a new ‘issue’, but the Encyclopedia Britannica, among other sources, indicates that gender diversity is neither ‘trendy’ nor ‘new’: Throughout history, many cultures have recognized gender identities other than male and female. Nonbinary people have often occupied unique positions in their societies, serving as priests, artists, and ceremonial leaders.

The article outlines a range of cultures in which more than two gender roles have been recognised and these people have often taken spiritual or religious roles. Often, too, it has been British colonisation that has sought to end this recognition and acceptance.

Brisbane Friends accepted an offer from two members of the Rainbow Friends and Allies Meeting who are active in medical care to share their experiences after Meeting for Worship during the second Sunday Peace and Social Justice session.

The two speakers shared their experience of the varying ways in which transgender and gender diverse people face inequities in the Australian medical system, and why trans and gender diverse people may struggle to receive an adequate level of health care that truly “speaks to their condition”.

Those in Brisbane Meeting who heard the presentation were unanimous in their reactions: First, that this was an excellent presentation that should be heard more widely within the Quaker community; and second, that this is a social justice issue and one that Quakers could and should take up to assist a group of people who are disadvantaged in numerous ways (not just within the healthcare system but also in employment and housing).

Some of the contributing factors to inequity in health care identified and discussed in the presentations included:

  • Lack of basic data such as life expectancy and percentage of total population – making long term plans for resource allocation at a population level difficult
  • No or minimal training for health care professionals during university and post university education, leading to doctors feeling under-equipped to provide care, and requiring additional time and effort to educate themselves
  • Lack of guidelines and screening tools specific to gender diverse populations, which can increase the risk of missed diagnosis of medical conditions, or lead to reduced quality of care
  • Lack of support for medical professionals wanting to work in the field of gender diverse healthcare
  • Low numbers of healthcare professionals providing care, with long waitlists, and limited choice of providers as a result
  • Legal differences between states regarding access to gender affirming care
  • No or minimal Medicare funding for some aspects of gender affirming care; many people travel overseas for care
  • Higher rates of ASD and ADHD amongst gender diverse populations – which bring their own difficulties in accessing care within our medical system
  • Minority stress experienced by trans and gender diverse people which impacts on mental health
  • Discrimination impacting on employment and housing, which has flow-on affects with regards to accessing health services
  • Experiences of the stigma associated with gender dysphoria being defined as a mental illness.

For Friends to help improve healthcare and health outcomes for gender diverse people some options are:

  • Support gender diverse people within your Meetings, and communities outside of Friends
  • Approach issues affecting trans and gender diverse people from a social justice perspective
  • Consider signing petitions and supporting parliamentary enquiries
  • Support and work with LGBTIQASB+ organisations in your state.

Further information about healthcare for trans and gender diverse people in Australia can be found on the AusPATH (Australian Professional Association for Transgender Health) website:

For information about broader equality issues for trans and gender diverse people:

 If your Local or Regional Meeting would like to organise for the speakers to provide a presentation to your Local or Regional Meeting, they can be contacted via the Rainbow Friends and Allies Meeting.

It will also be possible to attend workshops/Friendly Schools/Share and Tells on different topics, organised by Rainbow Friends and Allies Meeting throughout the year and at Yearly Meeting.


Related Posts



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This