Intersex Peer Support Australia launches

Intersex Peer Support Australia (IPSA), 25th October 2019

On the eve of Intersex Awareness Day, an internationally observed awareness day designed to highlight human rights issues faced by intersex people, and observed on 26 October each year, one of the oldest intersex groups in the world is launching a new name, branding and website.

Intersex Peer Support Australia (IPSA) will carry on the important work of the 1985-founded Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group Australia (AISSGA), which for more than three decades has been dedicated to assisting people born with variations in sex characteristics and their families, providing Australia-wide peer support, information and advocacy.

Elise Nyhuis, President of IPSA said, “The new identity will make us more visible to government agencies and support funders, and is more inclusive of the more than 40 known intersex variations, our diverse community and their families.”

“Our organisation advocates for and provides peer support to its members and the wider intersex community, focusing on the lived experience of having intersex bodies that physically differ from stereotypical, medical notions of male and female.

“The intersex community in Australia is strong and growing as people come out of hiding to stand together in the face of continued challenges from medicalisation, stigma and discrimination, shame, mental health issues, social inclusion, access to affirmative healthcare, parenting and human rights protection from medically unnecessary medical interventions on intersex children.

“Beyond our core work of providing intersex peer support, IPSA advocates for intersex issues through educating service providers, liaising with medical professionals, conducting policy review and consulting with government and NGOs, as well as by building community through coordinating opportunities and events for people with intersex variations to meet and share knowledge and experiences.

“The updated IPSA website will be a great resource for the whole community to learn more about the ‘I’ in the LGBTIQ acronym, while our membership will have access to a range of online extras through password-secured access,” said Elise.

Actions to support Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Gender Diverse, and Intersex elders

Australian Department of Health, February 2019

We know that LGBTI older people and elders are likely to have experienced violence, stigma and discrimination throughout their lives. As a result, they may be reluctant to disclose their identities or histories to aged care services and therefore remain isolated or invisible within both the aged care sector and the broader community. Combined with general stigmatisation and invisibility of LGBTI needs at large, this results in a lack of awareness of the unique needs of LGBTI elders and older people, including a lack of targeted services to support them. In addition, the fear of mistreatment or rejection from aged care providers can lead to LGBTI elders and older people delaying seeking care until their health deteriorates or a crisis occurs.

Many LGBTI elders and older people have lived through a time where identities were pathologised or criminalised, aversion therapies were encouraged, and non-consensual surgeries were routinely performed. As a result, many LGBTI older people have learned to conceal their sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status in order to be safe, particularly when interacting with the health or social services sector. The fear and mistrust of these services in the past have led LGBTI elders and older people to be reluctant to utilise mainstream services, including aged care. Reliving past discrimination when encountering new forms of discrimination in the aged care
environment can lead to feelings of anxiety and/or depression.

The Action Plan is a resource that will assist aged care service providers to better understand how they can advocate for and support LGBTI elders and older people. By providing culturally safe and inclusive services, providers will build confidence amongst LGBTI elders and older people and their carers, families of choice (who may or may not include biological family) and allies that aged care services are available for them and they will be given the support and care they need as they age.

The Consumer Guide captures the voice of LGBTI peoples expressed through those consultations. It is intended both to help LGBTI peoples express their needs when speaking with aged care providers and as a resource to support people working in aged care to understand the perspectives of LGBTI peoples.