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However, Otago-led research now under way should help set policy and educate health care providers to give clinically and culturally competent care, a leading researcher says.
Otago Polytechnic’s School of Midwifery has been granted $178,513 in Health Research Council of New Zealand funding this month to lead the new national research project.
The polytechnic said the school had already developed a New Zealand-first postgraduate course for midwives called ‘‘Queering Midwifery’’, which covered inclusive education.
It was also ahead in integrating gender-inclusive thinking into its bachelor programme, so future midwives were able to provide safe, quality care for trans, non-binary and takatapui families, it said.
The new research would be conducted by five academics from Otago Polytechnic, Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Waikato and was expected to be completed in early 2023, it said.
Dr George Parker, who recently moved from Otago Polytechnic’s School of Midwifery to Victoria University said transgender, non-binary and takatapui people had significantly different health care experiences compared with the general population.
However, research on their experiences in maternity services was limited, Dr Parker said.
There was no research that described what they experienced New Zealand’s maternity services, they said.
International research suggested maternity care was often unsafe and inadequate for trans and non-binary people.
Issues trans, non-binary and takatapui people could face included a lack of gender-inclusive language, lack of gender-inclusive bathrooms and other facilities, data systems that made it difficult or impossible to capture gender identity, and unwelcoming and transphobic attitudes from maternity providers, they said.
The research could inform future policy direction and educate health professionals to provide clinically and culturally competent care, Dr Parker said.
‘‘Pregnant trans, non-binary and takatapui people are currently marginalised from access to maternity services,’’ they said.