Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


Lack of support for New Zealanders with intersex conditions

29 January 2014

Research highlights lack of support for New Zealanders with intersex conditions

A lack of experience and traditional assumptions about male and female bodies make it challenging for New Zealanders with intersex conditions to get the support they need from the medical profession according to PhD research from Victoria University of Wellington.

Dr Geraldine Christmas studied medical management of intersexuality in New Zealand and the level of support available for intersex New Zealanders—those whose bodies fall between male and female—and their families.

Although medical publications indicate that intersex conditions may occur in two percent of live births, the New Zealand rates are not known. However, Dr Christmas says her research indicates the numbers in New Zealand are comparatively small.

“That means some doctors and nurses here may have very little practical experience of supporting intersex people and their families. In bigger countries, there are centres with specialists in the field but here it can be difficult for families to find medical staff who know much about the condition.”

Dr Christmas attended lectures at New Zealand medical schools to hear first-hand what trainee doctors learn about intersexuality and interviewed a range of health professionals and support agency staff. She also talked to a sample group of intersex New Zealanders.

She found that some doctors and nurses hold traditional views about gender identity and parents of intersex babies can be pressured into choosing surgery to ‘normalise’ their child’s body.

“There is still a lot of shame and secrecy surrounding intersexuality. One mother I interviewed talked about being given a videotape of intersex people who had not had surgery and warning them that their children may not be successful or accepted if they did not go ahead with the surgery.

“But the problem with surgery is that it is irreversible and the choice parents make for their child when they are very young may turn out not to be the right one.”

Dr Christmas says she spoke to clinicians who are keen to provide better support for intersex people by establishing an Australasian multi-disciplinary group which would include doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and representatives from community support agencies.

“The main theme of my interviews with parents of intersex people is that they need really good support from the time that their baby is born.

“They need information that doesn’t pathologise the condition or make it seem damaging or dangerous and they need reassurance that they are not alone.”

Her research also shows that intersex people have widely differing views on their condition and their gender identity.

“Some parents, especially in rural areas with closer-knit communities, are concerned that their children may become the subject of gossip and experience discrimination. Some people don’t see themselves as intersex, even if they have an intersex condition, while others are fluid in how they describe their gender.”

Dr Christmas’ research findings are available online at: http://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/handle/10063/2845

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Auckland: St. Jerome's Laneway Festival - Line-Up Announced

Traversing seven cities and three countries, the festival has well and truly settled into its home in each state. From the grassy knolls and towering silos at home in Auckland, to the sparkling backdrop of the Maribyrnong... More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: No Longer An Island

Simon Nathan reviews 'Zealandia: Our Continent Revealed': The idea that New Zealand is part of a large submerged continent is not new... There was renewed interest in the extent of offshore New Zealand from the 1970s onwards with the start of offshore drilling for oil and gas, and this was given impetus by a UN agreement which allowed countries to claim an Extended Continental Shelf (ECS). More>>

Art: Simon Denny Recreates Kim Dotcom’s Personal Effects

Who owns what? How has the internet changed our relation to the world? These are two of the many questions Simon Denny raises in the latest exhibition at the Adam Art Gallery, opening on Saturday 4 October. More>>

Theatre: The F Word: Sex Without The 'ism'

Sex without the 'ism' Okay, so the sexes are equal in the eyes of the law. What the F happens now? More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Don’t Eat The Fish

On 'The Catch' by Michael Field What the ecologically edible lists don’t appear to take into account – and they should – is slavery... It’s not an easy read, but it’s definitely near the top of my listicle of “5 Political Books You Must Read This Year”. More>>

ALSO:

Caracals: Small Cats With Big Ears Arrive At Wellington Zoo

Visitors to Wellington Zoo will be able to see New Zealand’s first Caracals in the Zoo’s new Grassland Cats habitat, with a special visitor opening day on Saturday 27 September. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: Classics - Tales From Moominvalley
Can’t speak for the reading end of it but the Moomins ( or maybe the story about Margaret Wise Brown) were the most enjoyable subject to think about and write about during these whole first 50 issues of Werewolf. For that reason – and because the Moomins always reward re-reading – I’ve decided to reprint it. The only added element is a link to an interesting hour long documentary about Tove Jansson. More>>

ALSO:

Repping In The Pacific: All Blacks And Manu Samoa To Play Historic Apia Test

The All Blacks will play Manu Samoa in Apia on Wednesday 8 July next year as part of both teams’ preparations for Rugby World Cup 2015. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news