Ms Moira Turnbull1
1ANU Counselling Centre, Acton, Australia
It is well documented that the mental health, wellbeing and physical health of transgender and gender diverse people is significantly worse than that of the general population. Notably, research indicates that these outcomes are not inherent to being transgender or gender diverse. They are instead related to stigma, discrimination, social exclusion, rejection by family and friends, as well as difficulty accessing appropriate supports and medical treatments.
Similarly for intersex people – who are mostly born into health bodies – many of their physical and mental health problems are caused by the effects of ‘normalising’ interventions. These include infant and childhood surgeries, other ‘normalising’ treatments, lack of transparency from health care providers and lack of counselling support.
Research also identifies that the intersex, transgender and gender diverse community is highly resilient and actively engaged in improving the wellbeing of its members.
In line with the Australian National University (ANU) values of being an inclusive, open and respectful institution that reflects the diversity of our nation, the ANU Counselling Centre developed a basic guide for ANU on intersex, transgender and gender diversity (ITGD). The guide is informed by the lived experiences of ITGD students and will be used to increase awareness and support for them across the ANU community. It recognises the resilience and determination of ITGD students and their community.
Students participated via an online survey which asked two main questions related to their needs and/or experiences at university:
- What do you most want others to know about intersex, transgender and gender diversity?
- What do you most want others to do/provide for intersex, transgender and gender diverse students?
Participants were also asked about services and supports they would recommend as sources of referral.
Student responses were organised in the guide around three affirmative practices⁶ of Awareness, Respect and Support.
Moira has extensive experience working in clinical and management roles in government and non-government services. Her work is supported by a social justice framework.