It is very exciting to finally make available the Gender Identity Australia Report, which documents findings from the two surveys undertaken by myself and Dr Clemence Due in 2012 and 2013. The executive summary is included below, but please read the full report via the link above for detailed findings, and circulate a link to this page widely.
The two surveys reported here, undertaken in 2012 and 2013, highlight both diversity and homogeneity. With regard to diversity, the report celebrates the many differing ways Australian people whose gender identity differs from that expected of their natally assigned sex experience their gender. In so doing, it encourages acknowledgment of this diversity, and recommends that service provision moves towards a model that recognises diversity as its starting place.
With regard to homogeneity, what tended to group our respondents together were the effects of cisgenderism. Specifically, we use the two categories ‘male assigned at birth’ (MAAB) and ‘female assigned at birth’ (FAAB) in many sections of this report to highlight that what often differentiated people’s experiences were health care professionals’ apparent responses to participants’ natally assigned sex. In other words, the diversity between respondents highlighted above tended to disappear when it came to accounting for experiences with healthcare professionals who, it would appear, at times were responding to a presumed distinction between people FAAB but who now identify with a different gender identity, and people MAAB but who now identify with a different gender identity. What seemed to determine experiences with healthcare professionals was in many instances assigned sex, and this, we suggest, is a product of cisgenderism (a claim we expand on at length in the overview).
Of the significant differences we found when comparing the two surveys, people MAAB were older, were more likely to have had surgery, and were more likely to have had more positive experiences with mental health professionals. In comparison, people FAAB reported slightly higher levels of positive mental health than did people MAAB. In general, we found that for those people who desired sex-affirming surgery, having had surgery was related to higher levels of positive mental health. Those who were in relationships, were parents, and/or felt more connected to the general community all reported higher levels of positive mental health.
The report also outlines both negative and positive experiences amongst respondents in relation to mental and physical health professionals, and as such highlights both what works well, and what requires improvement.
Importantly, the findings reported here echo previous similar surveys from the UK, Canada, the US, and of course the first Australian study documented in the TranZnation Report. Together these findings highlight not only the multiple forms of marginalisation experienced (and the subsequent need for better service provision), but also the strengths and resiliencies shown. We can only imagine how improved outcomes would be if cisgenderism both within healthcare and in the broader community did not occur.