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Supporting our trans and non-binary whānau


26 September 2019


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Robyn Kapeteni (middle) with SouthSeas Healthcare staff Shaun Tautali and Solo Aiono.

'Counting Ourselves', a recent report released by the Health Research Council and University of Waikato provided critical information about transgender and non-binary Kiwis on extra unnecessary barriers to accessing healthcare, getting social support and staying safe.

The report outlined greater risk of high levels of psychological distress, suicidal thinking, and suicide attempts, high levels of discrimination and violence, as well as significant barriers that transgender and non-binary people face when trying to access health services.

The survey found transgender and non-binary people were of a significantly higher risk of experiencing sexual violence than the general population.

Almost a third of participants said someone had sex with them against their will from the age of 13.

The study also found high levels of unmet need for all forms of gender-affirming care, such as hormones, counselling or surgery. However, it also highlighted positive steps and sources of support for transgender and non-binary people. One source of support highlighted in the report is from family and whānau as a contributing factor in mitigating mental health risks.

The findings of the survey affirmed stories shared by transgender and non-binary Kiwis who participated in the SouthSeas Healthcare MYSTORY initiative.

"The findings are sobering,” says Robin Kapeteni who identifies as transgendered, and one of the young leaders of the MYSTORY initiative.

"I joined the MYSTORY initiative for people to hear me and understand my challenges but also to help me to gain confidence in myself. I want people to know that it’s not a choice to be the person I am today.”

"MYSTORY allowed me to tell my story and have others listen and respond, reflecting on, and of course respecting my position in the story. I’ve been vulnerable throughout my life because I am different and MYSTORY helped me to express my uniqueness.”

Robin played an integral part in the development and delivery of MYSTORY which entails youth-focused events designed to give space to young people to share their stories. She has connected to the rainbow community by sharing her story with many young people throughout South Auckland. Her work led her to win the Mahi Tahi - Collective Award at this year’s New Zealand Youth Awards.

Although the survey findings are not new information to Robin and other transgender and non-binary people, at least it’s an initiation of real conversation with a group of people who are often marginalised and forgotten.

The survey 'Counting Ourselves' was the first comprehensive study of its kind to focus on transgender health and wellbeing in New Zealand. 1178 self-identified transgender and non-binary people aged 14 to 83 from all over New Zealand participated in the survey.

Click here to access the full report.

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