Intersex: Stories and Statistics from Australia

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Organisation Intersex International Australia have announced a forthcoming book titled ‘Intersex: Stories and Statistics from Australia‘. Written by Tiffany Jones, Bonnie Hart, Morgan Carpenter, Gavi Ansara, William Leonard, and Jayne Lucke, the book draws on stories and statistics from the first Australian national intersex study.

From the publisher:

Sex is complex. Humans are simultaneously more similar in their sex development, and more diverse, than is commonly appreciated or understood. Females and males are not made of wildly different ingredients. The potential to have intersex variations—to be born with atypical sex characteristics—exists for all humans in the first few weeks of their prenatal development. 1.7% of people actually go on to be born intersex.
However, most of us know little about intersex variations. This is only partly due to their occasional invisibility. Intersex people have historically faced deep social stigma—the assumption that they were simply bizarre aberrations from the human norm. Furthermore, intersex infants have been widely subjected to systematic institutional mistreatment, particularly within medical settings. Finally, some people with intersex variations have simply tried to integrate themselves unnoticed into the socially accepted categories of male and female.
Drawing on stories and statistics from the first national study of intersex the book argues for a distinct ‘Intersex Studies’ framework to address intersex issues and identity—foregrounding people with intersex variations’ own goals, perspectives and experiences. Collected in 2015 and arranged in thematic chapters, the data presented here on 272 individuals gives a penetrating account of historically and socially obscured experience. This book is an important and long-overdue contribution to our understanding of human sexuality and a must-read for people with intersex variations, health practitioners, psychologists, advocacy groups, students, and anybody interested in knowing more about our diverse human make-up.
For further information:

QLife Australia QLives Video Series

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QLife LogoQLife is the Australia’s first nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex (LGBTI). QLife provides nation-wide, early intervention, peer supported telephone and web based services to people of all ages across the full breadth of people’s bodies, genders, relationships, sexualities, and lived experiences.

QLives is a nation-wide project for LGBTI people to hear and share in the stories and experiences of people QLifehave contact with every day of the year. QLives presents the stories of some individuals within our diverse and varied LGBTI communities, people brave enough to show that our stories are important and moving.

 

Gender Help for Parents

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Gender Help for Parents

Gender Help for Parents is a website created and maintained by “Australian parents who have struggled to find information about services and support for issues around their children’s gender identity.”

The aim of the website is to make gender identity information easily available for parents and carers. Some good starting pages to have a look at include:

The website also contains information on services for parents and young people in Australia, including services in Tasmania.

Intersexion: A Documentary About Being Intersex

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Intersexion is a 2012 film by Grant Lahood, John Keir and Mani Bruce Mitchell.

The first question any new parent asks… “Is it a boy or a girl?”

But what happens when doctors cannot answer that question?

1 baby in 2,000 is born with genitalia that is so ambiguous that noone can tell if the child is male or female.

“I was amazed to discover just how common intersex conditions are in the world”, the documentary director Grant Lahood says. “Yet it was something I, probably like a lot of people, assumed was incredibly rare. Why is it that none of us know any of the 1 in 2,000 people who might be intersex?”

The award winning filmmaker came to the subject through Mani Bruce Mitchell – New Zealand’s first “out” intersex person. Mitchell is a common sight in Wellington with he/r small goatee beard, which she describes proudly as “my moko”.

Together Lahood and Mitchell set out to make a film that would de-mystify a variety of conditions that used to be broadly called “hermaphroditism”.

“Intersexion” looks beyond the shame and secrecy that defines many intersex births, and explores how intersex people “with their very different bodies” navigate their way through childhood, adolescence, relationships and adulthood, when they don’t fit the binary model of a solely male and female world.

Read more at the film’s website where you can also purchase the film. Working It Out also has a copy of the film in our library.

 

Information for Parents of Intersex Children – OII

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Organisation Intersex International Australia – Parents

Organisation Intersex International Australia’s website has an extensive list of resources and information for parents and families of intersex people. Resources include a handbook for parents, recorded parent talks and links to films by and about intersex people’s experiences.

From Blues to Rainbows: The Mental Health Needs of Young People With Diverse Gender

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From Blues to Rainbows was a national research project that aimed to redress the absence of positive, resilience-focused research for gender diverse and transgender young people. Download the From Blues to Rainbows report from beyondblue.

“From Blues to Rainbows found that half of the gender diverse and transgender young people surveyed were diagnosed with depression and two thirds had experienced verbal abuse.

Almost all of the 189 young Australians surveyed had experienced abuse because of their gender diversity, ranging from verbal threats to physical violence. One fifth had experienced physical abuse, and 90 per cent had thought about suicide in response to that experience of physical abuse. The street (40 per cent) and school (38 per cent) were the most common places for threats and harm to occur.

The report also found:

  • 66% of participants had seen a health professional for their mental health in the past year
  • 38% had suicidal thoughts and a quarter had spoken to a medical professional about it
  • One in three did not feel supported by their family and suffered much higher rates of stress, suicide and depression
  • 45% were diagnosed with anxiety compared with an average 25% of the population
  • 66% had experienced verbal abuse due to their gender identity
  • 62% had participated in some form of activism (e.g. participating in a march) which was a protective factor

However, the report also highlighted that parental, peer and school support can make a huge and positive impact to that young person’s wellbeing, as support from parents, peers and teachers was a major protective factor in their wellbeing.

The findings will be presented to policy makers and schools to suggest better supports for gender diverse and transgender young people and to educate teachers and parents, whose influence is crucial to the young person’s mental health and wellbeing”

Citation

Smith, E., Jones, T., Ward, R., Dixon, J., Mitchell, A., & Hillier, L. (2014). From Blues to Rainbows: Mental health and wellbeing of gender diverse and transgender young people in Australia. Melbourne: The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society

First Steps: Shared Stories from Parents and Caregivers of Trans* and Gender Diverse Children

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First Steps is a collection of personal stories, information and tips written for and by parents and caregivers of Trans* and gender diverse children. Published by Working It Out and the Gender Centre NSW, the booklet includes five stories from parents and a young person about their experiences, a note a about language and and gender identity, links to useful books and resources for talking about gender identity with children, and information about Working It Out support groups for parents, young people and adults in Tasmania.

First Steps was made possible with the generous assistance of many parents and families, the Gender Centre NSW and, Being Proud, a project of Working It Out, initially funded by the Tasmanian Government Department of Premier and Cabinet LGBTI Community Grants program 2014.

Download First Steps [PDF] | [DOC]

Being Me (ABC Four Corners)

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Being Me was a Four Corners documentary that originally aired on the ABC in November 2014. This critically acclaimed documentary explores the stories of several trans* children and their families.

View the episode free on the ABC Four Corners website.

“There are any number of self help books that will tell you how to find yourself.

But what if truly being yourself involved changing your gender? Would you have the courage to do it?

Eleven-year-old Isabelle does. To the world she looked like a young boy. But she knew that she was really a girl, and a year ago she told her parents the way she felt.

This week Four Corners reporter Janine Cohen tells Isabelle’s story and the story of the family, the doctor and ultimately the community that backed her decision to truly be herself.

Along the way we meet other people who’ve confronted the same feelings and discover that a growing and significant number of children are finding themselves in the same situation. Some find support from their parents and doctors. Others discover fear, prejudice and a legal system that doesn’t make it easy for them to be themselves.

For Isabelle, the decision to tell her story was not made lightly. She and her parents tell Four Corners that they are willing to speak about their experience so that others won’t feel alone and other transgender children can be helped and protected.

Doctors tell the program that trying to repress the feeling that you are trapped in the wrong body simply does not work. Instead, it can lead to self harm and even suicide.

Paediatricians also make it clear that timing is important. They explain that if children want to make a physical change, then treatment should begin at puberty. In that way, hormone treatments can be prescribed with far better results.

A senior judge tells Four Corners she is keen to see the law relating to transgender treatment tested sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, doctors and families warn the current legal situation is putting some children at risk.

Isabelle’s story is remarkable and inevitably raises many questions for families, doctors and society in general. Ultimately though, it’s a journey that shows courage and honesty is essential to triumph over ignorance. It’s a story that is not to be missed.”

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