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A Principal’s Story

Written by a primary school principal in Tasmania, 2015:

Ensuring our school is inclusive : The experience of one primary school.

As an inclusive school our student’s transition from male to female has not been a big issue.

Our school values of Community, Acceptance and Respect ensured that she is accepted for who she is and she is included in all aspects of school.  She uses the female toilets, (I was prepared for some opposition to this and have had none at all) and is accepted as a female by all students, staff and their families.

Open and honest communication between school and the family leading up to and during the transition period was essential.   Through reading, watching YouTube clips and documentaries and talking with staff at Working It Out (Our local Safe School’s Coalition service provider) I gained a better understanding of some of the issues our student and our community might face.  So together we brainstormed solutions to likely issues. Not one of those or any other issues have arisen.

On the first day of the year we had a 3 hour Professional Learning session run by staff from Working It Out. Our whole staff attended, (Office, Facility Attendants, Teacher Assistants and Teachers) that includes all part time and full time people.  We paid for part timers to attend if it wasn’t their work day. Some of our regular relief teachers attended in their own time.  It gave everyone the opportunity to receive the same information, ask any questions including sensitive questions, and have a common understanding and a common language.  At the end of the session everyone felt that they would be able to respond to comments or questions from children or adults.

Including a student who is transgender has not been an issue for our school …

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Efro’s Story

Well, it was on my 16th wedding anniversary,  that I decided (with Skyler’s blessing) to inform my parents about their eldest grandchild. So I rang them and when I spoke to my dad he as always wished me a happy “university”… I said it feels like I have been in university lately as I am learning something new everyday..

We had a laugh then I asked to speak to my mum, because telling her is going to be so much easier than telling my old fashion father who came to Australia from Cyprus when he was 21 years old.

So with my mum on the phone, and tell her she better sit down, and then I begin to explain about her eldest grandchild, my son Nathan who is 15 and as everyone in our family has known has been battling with anxiety and depression on and off for the past 5 years, which has lead to a sleep disorder and not be able to attend mainstream school for the past 2 years. Seeing his psychology regularly, we have been through the anger, smashing of windows, knives pointed at us, suicidal thoughts or thoughts of killing everyone else, it has been a rough few years but lately it seems it has calmed a bit with lots of help from his psychologist.

A few months ago, (October 2014) Nathan wanted to see his psychologist without me which I thought was great showing he is growing up dealing with his psychologist on his own etc. anyway my parents and family knew all this, what my mum didn’t know was that a month ago, after confiding in his psychologist Nathan informed me that he also felt like a girl, that he is transgender, and wants to be able to dress like one, he then …

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Changing Medicare/Centrelink personal details

Information regards changes to documentation

Medicare (and also Centrelink) – change of personal details (incl. gender) policy:
https://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/enablers/updating-your-personal-details-medicare-card
Key points:
You need to go into your local medicare/centrelink office in person with the documents required by them (a letter from a qualified doctor or psychologist, or alternative documentation).
The person in the office will forward them to the relevant department for actioning.
The person in the office may be unaware of the policy of medicare/centrelink – it may be worth printing out the policy and taking it in to the office with you. If you encounter difficulties you can call the Dept of Human Services Complaints line on 1800 132 468.
The policy states that:
To notify us of a change of gender you need to provide one of the following documents:

  • a statement from a registered medical practitioner or psychologist
  • a valid Australian Government travel document, such as a passport, that specifies your gender
  • an amended state or territory birth certificate that specifies your gender
  • a state or territory Gender Recognition Certificate or Recognised Details Certificate showin a state or territory Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages has accepted your change in gender’
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RCH News: New clinical pathway for trans and gender diverse children

From the Gender Clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne regards changes to their clinical pathways:

The RCH Gender Service has been able to expand its clinical services following the generous grant provided by the Victorian State Government in 2015. We have recruited and trained our new paediatricians, child psychiatrists and psychologists and the clinics are now running at full capacity.

Earlier this year, we sought feedback from parents and young people about our service and how we could improve it. We are greatly appreciative of the families who contributed to this and the results from these surveys will be published in time. In the meantime, we have modified our intake and assessment procedures to respond to some of the feedback. We are hoping that the new changes will significantly reduce the waiting list for new referrals and provide more support for parents and families whilst waiting to see the medical staff.

For the referrals that come in through the new system the main changes are:

  • Children and adolescents over 8 years of age and their parents/carers will have an appointment within 3 months of referral to see both our Clinical Nurse Consultant and one of our psychologists. This 90 minute appointment is designed to assess the needs of the young person and their parents/carers and to link them in with all the available supports both at RCH and in the community (Safe Schools Coalition, Minus18, Ygender, TGV, GASP, Gateway Health, GHFP, PGDC and Transcend, headspace Frankston etc)
  • Assessments for those living in regional and rural areas can be done via RCH Telehealth.
  • Following this initial appointment, parents will be offered a place in a group parent support session facilitated by the psychologist and other members of our team.
  • Families already on the waiting list will be offered a place
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Navigating the Stage 2 Process – A Legal Toolkit for Parents of Transgender Children

This toolkit is the work of Dr Fiona Kelly, from LaTrobe University.

It’s available to read in full below – and hard copies can be found at various medical and counselling facilities. A PDF copy can be found here on the Transcend Website

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New South Australian Practitioner list

Please click on the link below for a new list of practitioners in South Australia (August 2016)

Welcome to Trans Health SA!

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‘Explainer-what treatment do young children receive for gender dysphoria and is it irreversible?’

This article, from Dr Fiona Kelly who researched and wrote the Legal Toolkit for Navigating the Stage 2 Cross Hormone process, was recently published by The Conversation (Sept 2nd 2016) and SBS online (5th September 2016) in response to recent media articles relating to treatment of young children:

“Preschooler’s sex swap at age four”, read the Daily Telegraph’s headline on Thursday, sparking intense debate in the media over how to handle cases of young children experiencing gender dysphoria.

The story detailed the case of a pre-schooler who is transitioning to another gender.

But the fact is that no four-year-olds in Australia are undergoing any irreversible treatment. At that age, treatment for gender dysphoria consists mainly of counselling. No other medical treatment will occur until the child nears puberty.

What is gender dysphoria?

Diagnosis of gender dysphoria is governed by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

To receive a diagnosis, a person must express a strong and persistent cross-gender identification for more than six months, a persistent discomfort with his or her sex or sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex, and the experience must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Medical treatment for gender dysphoria is regulated by international consensus guidelines published by the Endocrine Society of the United States and endorsed in Australia by the Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group.

Treatment is also informed by the clinical guidelines contained within the Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People, produced by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and drawing on the best available science and expert professional consensus.

The WPATH Standards were adopted by the Australian and New Zealand Professional Association for Transgender Health and guide clinical practice in …

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New Book Release: ‘The Transgender Teen’

This book has been recently published (available here online ,and at other online and retail bookstores), which may be of interest to some parents – ‘The Transgender Teen’, by Stephanie Brill & Lisa Kenney’. Note: It’s a follow up to the excellent ‘The Transgender Child’.

‘What do you do when your son announces he is transgender and asks that you call her by a new name? Or what if your child uses a term you’ve never heard of to describe themselves (neutrois, agender, non-binary, genderqueer, androgyne…) and when you didn’t know what they meant, they left the room and now won’t speak to you about it? Perhaps your daughter recently asked you not to use gendered pronouns when referring to ‘her’ anymore, preferring that you use “they”; you’re left wondering if this is just a phase, or if there’s something more that you need to understand about your child. There is a generational divide in our understandings of gender.

This comprehensive guidebook helps to bridge that divide by exploring the unique challenges that thousands of families face every day raising a teenager who may be transgender, non-binary, gender-fluid or otherwise gender-expansive. Combining years of experience working in the field with extensive research and personal interviews, the authors cover pressing concerns relating to physical and emotional development, social and school pressures, medical considerations, and family communications. Learn how parents can more deeply understand their children, and raise their non-binary or transgender adolescent with love and compassion.’

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Laurie’s Story

CELEBRATING MY SON’S 3RD BIRTHDAY, 20 YEARS AFTER HE WAS BORN…

Next month we will celebrate the third anniversary of the day my son officially became my son. The day I finally, sadly, let go of my much-loved daughter and accepted my no-less-loved son. The fact is, I never had a daughter, not really. In his mind, he was always a boy, trapped in the confusing and inappropriate body of a girl.
I can admit now that when he first told me he was “he”, I was not only completely devastated, I was a complete idiot. I was so utterly ignorant of what being transgender meant that I didn’t hesitate to give him a long list of ways in which his life would be completely destroyed if he “chose” to do this.
Like that would be helpful to him. After he had spent years agonizing over the exact same thoughts. Fortunately, he was amazingly patient with me. And it took a while, but eventually I got on board and launched myself on a very steep learning curve. Here are just some of the things I know now that I wish I’d known then:
Being transgender is not a choice. Well, duh. Just like being gay is not a choice, it’s the way you’re born. I was stupidly slow in coming to this realization, but it’s blindingly obvious now. Trans people choose how and when to come out, whether it’s at six or sixty; they don’t choose to be trans.
Being trans is not equal to being gay. Gender and sexuality are two completely different and unrelated things. As the saying goes: sexuality is who you go to bed with, gender is who you go to bed as.
Being trans is not a tragedy. Back then, I ignorantly assumed it would …

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Gender Help For Parents’ signs LGBTI Groups Joint Statement on the Plebiscite

‘Gender Help For Parents’, whilst primarily an information and support service for Australian parents and carers of gender diverse kids, also engages in advocacy when we feel the need to speak up on behalf of our kids and our families.
In keeping with our desire to protect our families from the potentially harmful effects of a plebiscite, which includes the ongoing ‘debate’ surrounding marriage equality (which already has resulted in our kids being targetted, as well as the services that have proven beneficial in supporting them), we have signed the following LGBTI Groups joint statement on the plebiscite’ created by Australian Marriage Equality : http://www.australianmarriageequality.org/2016/09/14/lgbti-groups-joint-statement-on-the-plebiscite/
We ask the Australian Government to scrap the plebiscite plan and more towards enabling a free vote in the parliament.’…

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