Print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

Gender-affirming health care

The journey to affirm your gender identity is different for everyone. There's no right or wrong way.

If you experience distress because your gender identity doesn’t match the sex you were assigned at birth, you may wish to make changes to reduce your distress. Possible changes include social, medical and surgical changes. The changes are often referred to as transition or gender-affirming health care.

Gender-affirming health care respects a person’s unique sense of gender. It identifies and helps you with your gender healthcare goals.

Gender-affirming health care can include puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender affirming surgery. It may include support with exploring gender expression and social transition. It may also involve supporting whānau/family and caregivers.

If you want to access gender-affirming health care, the best place to start is to talk to your GP. Young people between 10 and 24 can also talk to 298 Youth Health.

It's OK to ask if your GP has experience working with gender identity and gender diversity issues. You can talk confidentially to the practice nurse or practice manager about this before enrolling with a general practice. You can also contact peer support groups to ask for recommendations of health professionals with relevant experience. See Support networks for transgender people or Support networks for transgender children, youth & their whānau/families.

When you visit a GP to talk about gender-affirming health care, you have the right to be treated with respect. You also have the right to be given information about what treatments and services are available.

It's a good idea to ask your GP or nurse to explain what the referral process for gender-affirming health care is like. The referral process may include:

If you need a mental health assessment, you may need to see a psychologist or psychiatrist. Your GP can refer you to one. They can do this through the public or private health systems.

You're welcome to ask questions and bring a support person or advocate with you to appointments. You may need to make longer appointments or have several appointments. Talk to your GP or nurse if cost is a problem. It's possible that financial support may be available.

You have the right of confidentiality. Information about your gender identity can't be given to anyone without your consent. You can ask to talk to your practice staff in a private space if you prefer.

If you’re a young person you can learn about your rights in Confidentiality (health privacy) for youth & teens and Your rights.

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

Written by Ko Awatea gender-affirming care co-design group. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created May 2019.

Sources

See also:

Gender-affirming health services

Your health rights

Image courtesy of The Gender Spectrum Collection.

Page reference: 615613

Review key: HISOG-53214