Senior Clinical Nurse Consultant
Sydney Sexual Health Centre
The US Centers for Disease Control defines Transgender as a term for people whose expression of gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term gender identity refers to a person’s intrinsic understanding of their own gender. The term gender expression describes how a person outwardly presents their gender (eg. how they dress). In NSW, recently there has been increasing discussion about the HIV and sexual health needs of people who are trans and gender diverse.
In order for clinicians, researchers and the community to understand the needs of people who are trans and gender diverse we need, first and foremost, to be able to identify trans people in our communities and services. Unfortunately, data on people who are trans and gender diverse accessing sexual health and HIV services in NSW is poorly collected. This is mainly due to a lack of clarity and agreement on sexuality and gender indicators to capture these groups of people in data sets. Do other jurisdictions in Australia have standardised and agreed definitions for trans and gender diverse people?
ACON has recently developed recommended sexuality and gender indicators and they are available at this link: http://www.acon.org.au/what-we-are-here-for/policy-research/#recommended-sexuality-and-gender-indicators
From consultations between ACON and the community on how best to implement the suggestions, it was recommended that an introductory sentence be introduced so all clients know the value of being asked the questions. A suggestion could be this:
We are about to ask you some questions. You may find some of the question unusual or not what you typically answer. They are designed to ensure we provide the best possible service to all of our diverse communities. None are designed to offend.
I believe that we need to have agreed definitions, for example, in the NSW Minimum data set for Sexual Health and HIV services, that enables us to identify and therefore research the needs of people who are trans and gender diverse in NSW.