Thursday, 28 July 2011

Falling at the First Hurdle

From the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a Spotlight on the forthcoming census.

Try it for yourself.

Imagine you are Intersex. Remember, complete each question completely and accurately before proceeding to the next one.

I identify as female. Most Intersex people identify as either male or female. But a significant proportion identify as neither.

One of the main problems we face is that we're effectively invisible, and many people think that we're one in a ...few million, exceptions that the current health care system can deal with on an individual basis.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and there are thousands of us who have to travel interstate or internationally for specialist medical care. When we point this out, then we're told that there's no data available about our numbers, that if we were more than a handful, statistics would surely have been kept by the ABS. According to them, we don't exist, so there's no need for any facilities to be provided to us.

Hence I have to travel interstate every few months for a 15 minute endocrinologist appointment, at great expense, and taking a full day to travel there and back. Medications essential to my health can be and have been withdrawn from the market, because there's no perceived need for them.

Trans people have the same problem. We know from stats kept by the passport office that at least 200 people get passports in a new sex every year - which requires that they provide proof of surgery. There are several thousand in Australia. Yet there are no medications approved for Trans people on Australia on the PBS or off it, and many of the best are either unavailable in this country, or availability can literally change from week to week as customs etc regulations are arbitrarily changed. All are supposedly only for other conditions, and if a better medication for those conditions is found, the old one is withdrawn, regardless of the effect on Intersex or Trans people. They don't count because they're not counted.

The ABS is well aware of this. They have a real problem with compliance though. Their research has shown that if any questions about Intersex or Trans status are included, a large number of religious conscientious objectors will refuse to fill out the forms, as the existence of Intersex people is against their religious beliefs. Worse, many Intersex and Trans people dare not answer such questions accurately, as they face losing their marriages, jobs, family etc if their status is revealed.


Anonymous said...

"Worse, many Intersex and Trans people dare not answer such questions accurately, as they face losing their marriages, jobs, family etc if their status is revealed."

The census is not anonymous. Census collectors flick through the form, and so can see what you wrote. Worse, there is a precedent for the census forms being archived. Additionally, the questions asked are deeply invasive.

I will be staying with a relative. That relative will be staying with me. Were Australians sensible, they would all be staying somewhere else ... and not fill out those forms.

Another thing: one of the anti-androgens results in trans women being recorded on a database of sex offenders. With that in mind, does the government have any right to so much as our names? I suggest not.


Anonymous said...
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Unknown said...

Is it possible to sue the ABS for not having a box provided for those who are not (f/m)?

Anonymous said...


OT, but this article seems to fall in your area of interest:

Andrew Parle

Zoe Brain said...

Already blogged - but there was a delay in publishing, so you may not have seen it.