Gina Wilson, president of Organistion Intersex International Australia, has welcomed moves to remove gender discrimination from Medicare. Photo: Dean Sewell
Gender discrimination will be removed from Medicare, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek will announce on Wednesday, meaning transgender and intersex people will not have to disclose or explain their gender in order to receive medical treatment.
Currently, some Medicare services are only available to men or women. Ms Plibersek said this had caused discrimination against some people who had been forced to have discussions about their gender identity in order to access a service or claim a rebate for one at a Medicare office.
''For example, someone who has a uterus may actually identify their gender as male. Under current arrangements, some Medicare covered medical procedures involving the uterus are described as 'female' or for 'women','' Ms Plibersek said.
Under the changes, all references to gender will be removed from the descriptions of Medicare services. Ms Plibersek said the gender references would be removed by describing medical procedures in greater detail, or by using anatomical language.
Of almost 6000 services covered by Medicare, 43 needed to be changed. Of these, 15 were changed earlier this month, while changes to the remaining services, and to systems and claims processes, will be made by the end of the year.
The Health Department and the Department of Human Services are also in early discussions about including a third sex on Medicare records.
Transgender people (those who identify with the opposite gender to the one they were born with) and intersex people (those who have physical features which are not quite male or female) will benefit from the changes.
Gina Wilson, the president of Organisation Intersex International Australia, said the changes were a ''huge step forward''.
Ms Wilson said she had difficulty getting appropriate medical treatment because her Medicare record said she was female but she had some male features.
''The doctors that think I'm female tend to treat me like that and ignore my male bits. And doctors that think I'm male tend to treat me like that and ignore my female bits,'' she said.
''What medicine should be treating is the person and the parts of a person. Medicine should not be interested in a person's sex.''