This anonymous survey is for transgender people who have used a social service, such as a therapist, social worker, or peer support service. We want to hear about how safe, supported, or useful social services are for you.
It takes around 20 minutes to complete
You can find out more and take the survey by clicking the button below.
It’s trans awareness week, and we’re releasing a new and improved Trans 101 Glossary, and a simplified version which is perfect to print and hand out at workshops, workplaces, social groups, or anywhere else that you need a simple glossary.
You can find these, along with a webpage version, linked in the main menu of our website or by clicking here.
The New Zealand Human Rights Commission (HRC) has published clear guidance about which medical practices will be considered conversion practices.
The law says that medical practices are only legal if they are BOTH 1.) according to a medical practitioner’s “reasonable professional judgement” and 2.) in compliance with all legal, professional, and ethical standards. Otherwise they are punishable.
The guidance from the HRC clarifies ethical standards, which will help HRC and the courts clearly determine which medical practices are unethical, unreasonable, and not up to professional standards.
“Conversion practices in healthcare settings are typically non-affirming practices directed towards an individual because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. These could look like:
• using shame or coercion to discourage someone from seeking gender-affirming care
• expressing the belief that being transgender is an illness and suggesting counselling to ‘fix it’
• creating delays to obstruct access to genderaffirming healthcare
• knowingly referring someone to a non-affirming healthcare provider.”
(The last point would include being knowingly referred to a non-affirming counsellor or therapist).
“If the provision of treatment is hindered by a belief that having a minority sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is wrong and needs ‘healing’ it is likely to be a conversion practice.”
“If you are unable or unwilling to provide affirming care, it is vital to refer a patient to someone who can.”
“In Aotearoa, patients have the right “to services of an appropriate standard”. This means that all people seeking gender affirming healthcare should be able to access it. Guidelines for gender affirming healthcare in Aotearoa, and internationally, show that timeliness is vital and deliberate delays such as the ‘watchful waiting’ approach exacerbate gender dysphoria, mental health problems and other negative and avoidable outcomes.”
“People aged 16 and over are considered old enough to provide medical consent for themselves under the Care of Children Act 2004.”
This document does also mention “readiness assessments,” in the context of readiness assessments being required for “any medical procedure.”
Another complexity is that the document mentions that counselling can be a conversion practice, but also says that delaying hormone treatment for “activities, such as counselling” is not a conversion practice. However, there are also clear guidelines for mental health professionals.
Mental health professionals
“Conversion practices include but are not limited to:
• using shame, coercion or other tactics to give someone an aversion to same-sex attractions or to encourage gender-conforming behaviour
• encouraging someone to believe their sexuality or gender is defective or disordered”
“When conversion practices occur in mental healthcare settings they typically do not support an individual in their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. These could look like:
• counselling to try and change or suppress sexuality or gender expression
• hypnotherapy to attempt to reorient sexuality
• deliberate referral to non-affirming healthcare providers”
“Conversion practices also occur in medical, counselling and psychotherapy settings, for example a practitioner may withhold necessary gender affirming healthcare or use counselling to suppress a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”
“Q. How should I deal with differences of opinion between a young client and their parent or caregiver when it comes to conversion practices?
A: Conversion practices cause significant harm to the person experiencing them and are unlawful. Treat this as a situation where the risk of harm – and the law – requires appropriate escalation.”
The NZ Law Commission is examining whether the current wording of the Human Rights Act (1993) adequately protects people who are transgender (including non-binary), and people with innate variations of sex characteristics (including intersex people), and if not, what amendments should be made.
This project is called “Ia Tangata | A Review of the Protections in the Human Rights Act 1993 for people who are transgender, people who are non-binary and people with innate variations of sex characteristics.”
What the Human Rights Act covers
The Human Rights Act is an anti-discrimination law. It seeks to ensure that people in Aotearoa New Zealand are not unfairly subjected to different treatment – for example, when accessing education, employment, housing, goods and services, and public facilities. As well as setting anti-discrimination standards, the Human Rights Act explains how these standards will be monitored and enforced.
Key to the Human Rights Act is section 21, which lists “prohibited grounds of discrimination” (things like sex, religious belief, colour, race, disability and sexual orientation). The Human Rights Act sets out the circumstances in which it is unlawful to treat someone differently and worse than others based on one of those prohibited grounds.
It is not always unlawful to treat someone differently and worse than others based on a prohibited ground. For example:
The Human Rights Act does not cover the way people behave in truly private contexts. The Act generally only applies to private people and organisations when they engage in certain public-facing activities (such as being an employer or landlord).
The Human Rights Act distinguishes between differences in treatment that are justified and differences in treatment that are unjustified through a range of methods. This allows for competing rights and interests to be weighed.
For those who want to learn more about how the Human Rights Act operates, we have prepared a Beginners’ Guide. Te Kāhui Tika Tangata | Human Rights Commission also has information available on its website (tikatangata.org.nz).
– Law Commission, 2023
You can download the Law Commission Beginners’ Guide to the Human Rights Act (HRA) by clicking the button below.
The HRA is broadly considered to include, within the meaning of ‘sex’: transgender people (including non-binary people), and people with innate variations of sex characteristics (including intersex people). However, currently the HRA does not explicitly include any of the above groups. The absence of explicit inclusion may leave room for narrow or discriminatory interpretations.
Discrimination on these bases may already be prohibited by one or more of the current grounds listed in section 21 of the Human Rights Act although this has not yet been considered by a New Zealand court or tribunal. For example, the Government considers that the existing ground of “sex” covers discrimination against people who are transgender, non-binary and/or have innate variations of sex characteristics (although it considers the law could be clearer).
– Law Commission, 2023.
Note that while it “has not yet been considered by a New Zealand court or tribunal”, there was a precedent setting ruling by the Employment Relations Authority in 2016, which accepted that an employer who constructively dismissed a transgender woman for transitioning did so unlawfully.
Find out more and make a submission
There will be an opportunity for the public to submit their views in 2024. It will be important for the Law Commission to hear from transgender people (including non-binary people), people with innate variations of sex characteristics (including intersex people), and our supporters. We will publish more information, things to consider, and our submission during 2023-2024. You can follow our blog in the main menu for updates from us. You can also find out more and subscribe to updates from the Law Commission by clicking the button below.
Takatāpui, transgender, other rainbow young people are more likely to be involved with Oranga Tamariki, and spend time in the state care system, than the general population.
Over the past 2 years, we’ve worked with a number of rainbow organisations and advocates as part of a Community Design Team, facilitated by Point and Associates on behalf of Oranga Tamariki. We carried out research to discover what takatāpui and rainbow young people want Oranga Tamariki to know about their experiences of living in state care, and how they want the system to change.
The report, Making Ourselves Visible, launches 14 June 2023, and will be available on our website once it is launched.
Join the launch webinar
The launch webinar will be held 14 June 2023, from 12 noon to 1pm. You can register here.
The webinar will be led by care-experienced rainbow rangatahi and will include a panel discussion with members of the Community Design Team.