COVID-19: A Gender Lens – sexual & reproductive health and gender inequality

UN Population Fund (UNFPA), March 2020

Disease outbreaks affect women and men differently, and pandemics make existing inequalities for women and girls and discrimination of other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty, worse. This needs to be considered, given the different impacts surrounding detection and access to treatment for women and men.

Women represent 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally and special attention should be given to how their work environment may expose them to discrimination, as well as thinking about their sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial needs as frontline health workers

The sex lives of young women marked by frustration, stress, guilt and embarrassment

Monash University, 24 Feb 2020

Professor Susan Davis, a leading Monash University expert on women’s health, admits it was a highly ambitious project: minutely studying the sexual wellbeing of 7000 young Australian women with particular focus on complicated, intimate ideas such as desire, arousal, orgasm, responsiveness and self-esteem.

Now that it’s done (and published this week in the international journal Fertility and Sterility), she’s “very concerned.” The main finding is that half of the women studied experience personal “distress” related to sex. One in five has at least one sexual dysfunction. “Young” means aged 18 to 39. The concern, she says, is because “sexual wellbeing is recognised as a fundamental human right”.

“This is a wake-up call to the community,” she says. “This is what we [society] are doing to people. We expected to find that a meaningful number of young women had sexual issues, but we were not expecting to find half were distressed sexually.”

Discrimination: a health hazard for people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds resettled in Australia

Ziersch, A., Due, C. & Walsh, M. Discrimination: a health hazard for people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds resettled in Australia. BMC Public Health 20108 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-8068-3

Abstract

Background

Research has shown that discrimination is harmful to health, but there is relatively little known about discrimination experienced by people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds in resettlement countries and associated health effects. This qualitative-focused mixed methods paper reports on discrimination experienced by refugees and asylum seekers, responses to discrimination, and impacts on health.

Methods

As part of a broader study of housing, social inclusion and health, surveys were completed by 423 adult refugees and asylum seekers living in South Australia who had been in Australia for up to 7 years. The survey included questions on discrimination based on skin colour, ethnicity and religion, as well as questions on hope, trust, belonging, sense of control and health (including the SF-8). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 65 survey participants, purposively sampled by visa status, continent and gender, further exploring experiences of discrimination. These and survey open-ended responses were analysed thematically.

Results

Twenty-two percent of survey participants reported experiences of discrimination since arriving in Australia (14% in the last year), and 90% of these felt that discrimination had harmed their health. Key settings of discrimination were public transport, within the neighbourhood, and in relation to employment. Those who reported discrimination had significantly worse mental health (p < .000) but not physical health. Discrimination was also associated with less sense of belonging (p = .001), lower levels of trust (p = .038), reduced sense of control (p = .012) and less hope (p = .006). Incidents described in interviews and the open-ended survey responses included incivility, physical assault, and denial of services, experienced across intersecting characteristics of race/ethnicity, religion, gender and visa status. Responses to discrimination spanned affective, cognitive and behavioural dimensions, ranging across types of experience, participant characteristics and context, with most individuals reporting multiple response types. While some of the responses were reported by participants as protective of health, participants’ reflections indicated significant negative impacts on mental health in particular.

Conclusion

Discrimination featured in the resettlement experiences of a significant number of refugees and asylum seekers, with participants reporting clear negative impacts on mental health. Addressing discrimination is a key resettlement and health issue requiring urgent action.

New ‘Trans @ School’ resource

 LGBTI Legal Service, Legal Aid Queensland and the Queensland Human Rights Commission, in consultation with the Queensland Children’s Gender Service, 2020

This resource has been developed in consultation with the Queensland Children’s Gender Service, young people, parents and educators.
School is an important part of life for children and young people. Schools not only have an ethical duty, but a legal responsibility to provide a safe and supportive environment that protects all students, including trans and gender diverse students. As such, schools need to know how to support trans or gender diverse students, and understand that each will have specific needs.
This guide is for trans and gender diverse students, and aims to help them navigate the complex issues that can arise at school.

Life satisfaction and mental health among transgender students

Life satisfaction and mental health among transgender students in Norway

Anderssen, N., Sivertsen, B., Lønning, K.J. et al.

BMC Public Health 20, 138 (2020)

Background

Social attitudes to transgender persons and other gender minorities vary around the world, and in many cultures, prejudices and social stigma are common. Consequently, transgender persons face challenges related to discrimination and negative attitudes among the public. The purpose of this study was to compare life satisfaction, loneliness, mental health, and suicidal behavior among transgender students with cisgender students’ experiences in a nationwide sample of Norwegian students pursuing higher education.

Methods

In total,50,054 full-time Norwegian students completed an online questionnaire (response rate 30.8%), of whom 15,399 were cisgender males, 34,437 cisgender females, 28 individuals who reported being binary transgender (12 transwomen and 16 transmen), and 69 individuals non-binary transgender persons. The measures included questions concerning gender identity, life satisfaction (Satisfaction With Life Scale), loneliness (The Three-Item Loneliness Scale), mental health problems (Hopkins Symptoms Check List), mental disorders, and suicidal ideation, suicidal behavior, and self-harm. Chi-square tests, Independent-Samples Kruskal-Wallis tests, and logistic regression analyses were used to examine differences between gender identities.

Results

Transgender students reported significantly more psychosocial burdens on all measures. There were no significant differences in any of the measures between the binary and non-binary transgender students.

Conclusion

The findings call for increased awareness about welfare and health for transgender students in Norway. Higher education institutions need to consider measures at various levels to establish a learning environment that is more inclusive for gender minorities.

Press release: We Must Do Better for Our Trans and Gender Diverse Children and Young People

South Australia’s first Commissioner for Children and Young People, 4th November 2019

Commissioner for Children and Young People Helen Connolly says that South  Australia’s trans and gender diverse children and young people have told her they want their health care needs to be a  priority for the Government. 

Our jurisdictions around Australia already deliver models of care that cater to the specific needs of trans and gender diverse children and young people, however South Australia is lagging behind with children and young people, and their families consistently report that access and support is ‘ad hoc’.

The findings have come out of the First Port of Call report released by the Commissioner. On advice received from trans and gender diverse children and young
people, four distinct priority areas, requiring immediate attention, have been identified in the report.