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LGBTIQ+ youth panel

Symposium focuses on LGBTIQ+ healthcare.

Two youth discussing as part of a panel
SydneyConnect Image: LGBTIQ+ youth panel at Sydney Local Health District's Patient and Family Experience Symposium

"The future of our country requires us to listen to the voices of young people, so why not provide the megaphone so everyone can hear them?"

Activist Katherine Hudson's question perfectly summed up the sentiment of the conversations at Sydney Local Health District's Patient and Family Experience Symposium held as part of Innovation Week 2022.

This year, the Symposium focused on healthcare for LGBTQI+ patients and families, with young people from the District's LGBTQI+ communities sharing their experiences of navigating the public health system.

Katherine (she/they), who co-founded the Wear It Purple Day initiative while still in high school, said young people needed to be listened to and empowered.

"Once you're in the room, you have to be respected and believed," she said.

Olivia Stewart (she/her), an 18-year-old trans woman from Sydney, said trans healthcare isn't simply about being trans.

"I want to be seen as a whole person. Not just through a lens of gender identity, not just a patient who is only trans. Just because I'm trans doesn't mean my life revolves around it. Please, define us not by our transness but by our humanity."

Katherine and Olivia were joined by peers Jesse Cross (they/them) and Murray Gatt (he/him) for a panel discussion called 'What matters to me' during which they reflected on their healthcare experiences.

Jesse spoke about being disempowered when attending GP appointments with their parents.

"When I'd go to the doc's, most of the time, they'd bypass me and go straight to the parent," they said.

While Olivia said that having her doctor ask what her pronouns were made her feel accepted, and for Katherine, it was as simple as seeing an LGBTIQ+ representative's artwork at RPA Hospital.

The panel also shared their ideas about ways healthcare providers could proactively make LGBTIQ+ young people feel safe and welcome.

"We're going to be more offended if you assume rather than ask questions," Jesse said.

The panellists said service providers should educate themselves about LGBTIQ+ people and their needs.

"Please read up on the basics of being trans. I don't want to have to spit out my whole life experience and be a walking Google," Olivia said.