Massive petition calling for transgender healthcare presented to parliament

Greens leader Adam Bandt has tabled a massive petition to parliament calling for gender affirming heath care to be covered by Medicare.

The petition contained over 140,000 signatures one of the biggest responses ever to a petition created through the parliament’s own website.

“Trans and gender-diverse people deserve to feel affirmed for their gender expression. For some, it can be life-saving. In our current system, trans people have to spend up to $30,000 to access surgery and transitional health care because it isn’t covered under Medicare. This is unacceptable.” Bandt said.

“No matter how much or how little money you have, you should be able to access health care that affirms your identity and your expression of who you are and helps you to be seen in the way you want to be seen. Affirmative health care has incredibly positive consequences for trans and gender-diverse people, improving their mental health and reducing rates of suicide, especially among
young people.

“Last year alone, nearly 50 per cent of trans and gender-diverse young people reported attempting suicide. We are failing them.” Bandt told parliament on Tuesday.

The Greens leader said politicians had a responsibility to ensure that socioeconomic barriers didn’t stop trans and gender diverse people from accessing lifesaving support services.

“Currently, numerous barriers exist in the healthcare system for disadvantaged trans and gender diverse people, and removing the socioeconomic barrier to affirmative health care is an important step in upholding our responsibility to care for trans and gender diverse people in this country.

“The Australian Greens want gender affirming medical care, including access to surgical procedures, prescribed hormones, products and services to achieve authentic gender identity and expression, to be provided at no out-of-pocket cost as part of Medicare.” Bandt said.

The petition is the fifth most signed in the 5-year history of parliament e-petition system.

Currently some gender-affirming surgery items are covered by Medicare but people still face large out of pocket expenses that can total tens of thousands of dollars. People who care able to afford private health cover can also sometimes claim some of the costs.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health has said that before any procedure can be funded via the Medicare Benefits Schedule an independent committee must access its “safety, clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness”. There are currently no applications to add more items to the schedule.

“A range of individual surgical procedures and consultation services which are listed on the MBS can be provided as part of the gender affirmation process.”

“The MBS items for specialist consultations with plastic and reconstructive surgeons and psychiatrists may also be relevant for some patients. There are a range of Medicare rebates for these services.” the spokesperson said.

OIP Staff

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