Rainbow Fertility is proud to participate in Wear it Purple Day this Friday, 27 August to help raise awareness and support for Australia’s young LGBTI+ people.
This year’s WIP Day theme is Start the Conversation…Keep it Going. So, we caught up with fertility specialist, Dr Natasha Andreadis (Dr Tash), along with our Rainbow Fertility ambassadors, Brihony and Shae Dawson, and Jessi and Millie Poutama, to do just that… start the conversation.
Wear It Purple Day is more than “What are you going to wear?” but that’s not to say that we can’t be inspired by Dr Tash’s Prince Purple Rain jacket and the guarantee that Brihony will be wearing something “absolutely fabulous” this Friday.
The great news is that Millie is 26 weeks pregnant. Luckily, Millie has a purple jumper that she can still squeeze over her bump and the trackies or leggings she’s been hanging out in during lockdown.
Wear it Purple was founded in 2010 in response to global stories of real teenagers, real heartache and their very real and tragic responses to bullying and harassment resulting from the lack of acceptance of their sexuality or gender identity. Today, LGBTI+ people are still disproportionately represented in mental health statistics and face discrimination in many settings, including health care.
“I think the most important thing is inclusivity,” Brihony answers. “We need to see LGBTIQ+ people in advertising, inclusive language on health care forms and health staff trained on how to be inclusive and create safe spaces for the queer community.
“This is especially needed in healthcare,” Brihony says. “Everyone feels vulnerable when they attend a clinic, but even more so for people who don’t fit into those ‘normal’ medical terms/boxes. LGBTIQ+ people might have to explain themselves over and over again, deal with body dysmorphia, and they might have to use their ‘dead name’ because that’s what’s on their Medicare card. All these extra stresses can start building up even before they step foot in a clinic.”
Jessi and Millie would also like to see more health care services be conscious about how they welcome people.
“One of my favourite things about our IVF clinic was that they asked our pronouns in the first conversation,” Millie says. “It seems silly but something as simple as that just sets the tone for feeling safe and included. Sometimes when you enter a health facility and you spot a little rainbow sticker somewhere I also breathe a little sigh of relief. Sometimes it’s the small things that probably go unnoticed by most people that can bring the most comfort.”
“Another thing we notice often with scan appointments or doctor’s appointments relating to our current pregnancy, is the assumption is typically we are friends, not wife and wife,” Millie says.
“Over the years I have had patients who have thanked me for taking the time to use their chosen pronouns. It really is that simple. Respect people from the outset, without assumptions.
As a lecturer at the University of Sydney Medical School, Dr Tash helps educate health professionals on Transgender health and fertility options. “Education is key,” she says. “I have gender inclusive patient intake forms, so from the outset members of the LGBTI+ community feel included and comfortable to be themselves.”
“Hopefully, open conversations help people see beyond and learn about the heteronormative cis-gendered perspective,” she says.
“As a fertility specialist, we need to keep having these conversations for young LGBTI+ people. LGBTI+ people desire to be parents as do hetero-cis people. Many LGBTI people feel that having children will be very difficult, when in fact there are many options, and we are here to help.
“We didn’t have those sorts of conversations when I was a young LGBTIQ+ person,” Brihony said. “I just sort of had to wing it on my own. My advice now would be – never apologise for who you are. If you’re coming out to your parents or if you don’t fit into people’s boxes, whatever they may be – never apologise. You’re just being who you are. It’s those other people who have to shift their perspective of you and to open their minds.”
“Find your queer community (and great allies) and lean on them to help you build your strength and resilience. Involve yourself in the culture and the community so you can spend some time finding out who you are. It’s hard to be what you can’t see.”
Likewise, as a younger LGBTI+ person, Millie says she didn’t meet many LGBTI+ people in “real life”, but on the occasions that she did, she really treasured those interactions.
“One of the reasons we decided to share every step of our own fertility journey was because this was something we never had access to when we were growing up. We wanted to empower younger members of the LGBTI+ community to see it really is possible. We are grateful to Rainbow Fertility and other companies who have helped us share our story and reach more people,” Jessi and Millie said.
Happy Wear it Purple Day!
City Fertility, along with its Rainbow Fertility service, is a proud member of Pride in Health and Wellbeing, committed to improving the health and wellbeing of Australian LGBTI+ communities and working to address the challenges faced by LGBTI+ individuals in accessing health and human services.
Brihony and Shae Dawson and Jessi and Millie Poutama are ambassadors for Rainbow Fertility.
You can listen to Dr Tash’s conversation about gender creative parenting with advocate, author of Raising Them and TED Talk speaker, Kyl Myers PhD, on the Fanny Mechanic Podcast (Apple; Spotify).