Annette King's first-hand experience of transgender struggles

  • 30/08/2017

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern's campaign 'minder' - political stalwart Annette King - has revealed to a public meeting she was once married to a transgender person, so understands the need for increased government support.

At a Gisborne meeting on Tuesday, Ms Ardern was taking questions from the crowd when an audience member asked about wait times for transgender surgery.

Ms Ardern agreed more support is needed, NZME reports, and Ms King added the lack of surgeons was a problem.

"I also was married to a transgender person, so I understand very much the issues for transgender people and the need to have access to surgery and to counselling and drugs and support," Ms King said.

"We are very supportive of that in our policy."

She did not wish to comment further when approached.

Ms King - who will retire from Parliament at the election - conscience-voted in favour of Homosexual Law Reform in 1986. At the time, she was warned against voting for reform, because of concerns of backlash from her Horowhenua electorate.

Newshub spoke to several trans people in July, who told of long waiting lists, a lack of services and frustration over doctors struggling to understand their needs.

In 2014, New Zealand's only transgender surgeon retired and the Ministry of Health has been unable to find a replacement. People seeking reassignment surgery now have to travel overseas.