Penelopy Mansell, a transgender woman living in Wellington, was recently declined membership by a women's gym despite her birth certificate stating she is a woman.
This story prompted the National Council of Women to issue a statement that they support the inclusion of trans rights in the pursuit of equality in Aotearoa. “Trans women’s rights are women’s rights – and ‘women’s rights are human rights” says NCW CEO Gill Greer.
Penelopy's story is among many that have recently highlighted the need for more clarity in New Zealand law around diverse gender rights.
As a feminist organisation we believe everyone should have the freedom to define and express their own gender identity, and should not be subject to discrimination or face barriers because of their gender identity.
Discrimination towards gender diverse people is a serious issue in New Zealand. The Human Rights Commission “To Be Who I Am” report published in 2008, showed that trans people experienced serious discrimination and barriers to education, employment, housing and healthcare. Some trans identified people reported they were afraid to do simple tasks such as shopping or going out for a meal, becasue of their experience of discrimination, harassment and assault.
Trans youth are particularly vulnerable. A 2012 NZ youth survey showed students who reported being transgender faced considerable discrimination and mistreatment, as well as significant disparities concerning health and wellbeing:
- Approximately 40% of transgender students had significant depressive symptoms and nearly half had self-harmed in the previous 12 months.
- One in five transgender students had attempted suicide in the last year.
- Nearly 40% of transgender students had been unable to access health care when they needed it.
- Nearly one in five transgender students had experienced bullying at school on a weekly (or more frequent) basis.
- More than half of transgender students were afraid someone at school would hurt or bother them.
We stand with the Nation Council of Woman in encouraging the inclusion of gender diverse people's needs in pursuit of gender equality in Aotearoa.
The YWCA is an organisation for anyone who identifies as a woman, including trans girls and women. For more information on the programmes we offer, check out our programmes page or get in touch to find out whats on offer in your area.
- Rainbow YOUTH: An organisation that supports gender-diverse young people in New Zealand
- Inclusive Education: How New Zealand schools support trans and other rainbow students
- To Be Who I Am: Report into he Inquiry into Discrimination Experienced by Trans People by the Human Rights Commission
- Inside Out: Making schools a safer place for all young people of minority sexualities, sexes and genders.
- Tīwhanawhana: A takatāpui community group based in Wellington that welcomes people of diverse sexualities and gender identity.
- Gender Minorities Aotearoa: Peer-led organisation providing national services and information database.
- OUTLineNZ 0800 OUTLINE (6885463) offers toll-free phone counselling and support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
- Your Local: A regional directory of queer & gender diverse support groups all over Aotearoa.
- Asia Pacific Transgender Network: Organisation advocating for the rights of trans and gender diverse people across Asia and the Pacific.