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What we wish our GPs, Nurses and Specialists knew

This list comes from a discussion in March 2015 with a group of young trans* and genderqueer people from Wellington talking about experiences with GPs, nurses, specialists and DHB services. There were some good stories and a lot of frustrations.

The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity include rights to nondiscrimination in health care, adequate and timely health care, and the right for informed consent and medical transitioning. Young people can be disadvantaged through perceptions about their age and maturity in addition to being trans* or genderqueer – paying attention to things in this list can make all the difference.

The Basics

  • what the word 'transgender' means
  • what being transgender means
  • trans is a descriptive label, not prescriptive
  • genderqueer is a thing and it's normal and okay
  • that trans people like to be treated like normal people
  • being trans isn't a mental illness
  • gender is not directly connected with sexuality
  • transgender people are not all crossdressers
  • misgendering is like being punched in the face

Health Care

  • being trans isn't a mental illness
  • there's no test to tell if you are “really trans” so be kind to us
  • be informed about what impacts hormones have so they don't put you in the 'too hard basket' and be uncomfortable dealing with you
  • we need health services from both 'sexes'
  • don't ask about my breast size

Medical Knowledge

  • help us find out about treatments
  • share knowledge and information
  • effects of hormones – physical changes, emotional changes, what they do and don't do

Health Systems

  • know who to refer me to or redirect me to someone who does
  • how to navigate the system
  • advocate for us
  • updating medical system pronouns, names and titles is really really important
  • psychologists and counselling are expensive for us
  • communicate and follow up – don't leave us hanging
  • it would be nice of if Capital & Coast DHB actually listened to us and our complaints
  • Rules in other countries, including restrictions on medications
  • waiting for the first time is agony
  • three months feels like forever

Building Relationship

  • using our preferred name and pronoun is REALLY important
  • what pronouns to use – know that you need to ask
  • 'they' is a valid pronoun
  • create a welcoming atmosphere
  • we've thought about this a lot more than anyone else, so believe us
  • being called a 'queen' is offensive to some
  • help us trust you
  • be open to questions
  • we're looking for understanding and acceptance
  • communicate with us


Center for Excellence in Transgender Health – University of California, San Francisco

Peer reviewed clinical care resource

Primary Care Protocol for Transgender Patient Care

Protocols flyer
– handy for people to print and take to their doctor/health professional

Acknowledging Gender and Sex
– an online course for doctors, nurses and administrators about making your practice welcoming of gender and sex diversity

NZ Human Rights Commission

Trans people – facts and information resources
– includes 'basics' fact sheets, information for schools and workplaces for supporting trans* and genderqueer people


What the heck is genderqueer?