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July 23, 2018 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Massey Trans Students Call for Better

Trans and gender-diverse students at Massey University are disappointed with the university’s lack of resources and training.
A current Massey student, who now goes through Wellington Hospital for hormone replacement therapy (HRT), had to wait five months before starting hormones.
While he felt that Massey’s original GP “really listened” to him, he has had some “not so okay” experiences with other doctors at the school.
The student currently sees a counsellor through Massey Student Health. He feels like the counsellor, as well as health services at Massey, are still treating him “like an alien”.
“All-in-all the Massey health and counselling staff need some better training in regards to transgender and nonbinary health care,” the student said.
A Massey representative said that the University has ongoing training for staff “in line with the Rainbow Commitment”.
Students wishing to seek HRT at Massey currently have to go off-site to receive prescriptions. He said it would have been easier if they had access to treatment on site. He’s had to skip uni because the hospital doesn’t take student schedules into consideration. He believes that the experience would have been “a lot less stressful” if Massey offered HRT.
Another student, who wishes to remain anonymous, had a bad experience with Massey Student Health four years ago. “When coming to [Massey Student Health] about wanting to start HRT, I felt like I had more information about it than they did.”
After waiting six months for a prescription from Wellington Hospital, the student went to a Massey nurse for instruction on how to inject the testosterone.
The nurse punctured a needle into a citrus fruit for an illustration, then showed the student two injection sites on the upper thigh — one site being entirely incorrect. The student continued to inject in the same spot for three and a half years, causing a buildup of testosterone and perpetual bruising. “It got to the point where my injections either hurt too much or I’d get too anxious to do them,” said the student.
A Massey spokesperson said that they are not aware of “the suggestion of incorrect instructions being given or any complaint or issue being raised in relation to the allegation”. They said that the allegation would not relate to current staff.
Mauri Ora doctor Cathy Stephenson believes that the problem is wider than Massey University.
“From my point of view, the gender diverse community has been badly neglected in terms of the health sector for a long, long time,” she said.
Stephenson and Counsellor Anny da Silva Freitas of Victoria University have been part of a team developing a six-month pilot health project aimed at giving trans and gender-diverse students better and easier access to gender affirming hormone therapy. The project would give trans students HRT on-site at Student Health, instead of having to go to the hospital, which is current practice.
The project launched in early 2018 and involved consultation with UniQ, other students advocates, InsideOUT (a queer youth focused NGO), and oversight from other health professionals from VUW and throughout Aotearoa. Six students have received HRT through this project.
“There are still huge barriers to accessing quality, timely support and especially when it comes to medical and surgical transition. We hope that this small project, designed in partnership with community representatives, can go some way towards removing some of those barriers,” said Stephenson.
A formal evaluation of the project is underway. They hope the pilot will enable other areas of New Zealand, such as Massey University, to set up clinics along the lines of this patient-centred, primary care based model.
Stephenson and the group who supported the project are hopeful to receive funding through the DHB to continue the service through Mauri Ora at VUW, but are yet to recieve any official confirmation.
Erin Page, UniQ co-president and a student who is current receiving HRT outside of VUW, is excited about the project. He said it would be “fantastic that students who are seeking HRT won’t have to go through the public system, which can take months and cause a huge amount of stress”.


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