Transgender New Zealanders are dying from neglect in the medical system

Transgender people face tough times in New Zealand as they deal with discrimination and gender dysphoria.

But they also face another battle - getting the support they need from the health system.

Newshub spoke to trans people as part of an interview series to highlight the lack of funding and support they receive as they transition.

They paint a gloomy picture of long waiting lists, a lack of services, a medical profession that doesn't always understand trans people's needs and a Government afraid to be seen publically supporting the minority group.

Trans people say the problem is so bad it's contributing to the community's suicide rates.

Eliana Golberstein talked to Newshub about her struggles.
Eliana Golberstein talked to Newshub about her struggles. Photo credit: Newshub

Part of the problem is the lack of gender reassignment surgeons.

New Zealand's last transgender specialist surgeon retired in 2014 - and the Ministry of Health has been unable to find a replacement.

"An individual meeting the eligibility criteria for gender reassignment surgery, as outlined on the Ministry's website, can be referred by their DHB specialist to the waiting list for gender reassignment surgery. This is for genital surgery only," the Ministry says.

All genital reassignment surgery is currently carried out overseas.

"At present no other surgeon has been identified as being able to offer this type of surgery in New Zealand though the Ministry remains in conversation with the New Zealand Association of Plastic Surgeons about future provision of services."

People wanting gender reassignment surgery are forced onto long waiting lists. If they want to fund it themselves, they face a bill running into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Trans people say that without a cultural change, these problems will continue to get swept under the carpet.

But without a commitment to prioritise the support they need, more transgender people will die.