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Kate Hoppe/Manager, Marketing, Communications & Strategic Projects
11 mins read·July 14th, 2021

Learn more about transgender mental health from podcast guest Dr Martina Gleeson

The MHPN podcast series  ‘Transitions’ is hosted by Dr Monica Moore (General Practitioner) and Julianne Whyte (Social Worker) in conversation with each other and guest experts, as they reflect on the relationship between life changes and emotional wellbeing. The series explores the impacts of major life changes and events on mental health and wellbeing across ten episodes, from a reflective, interdisciplinary and collaborative perspective.

We caught up with guest expert Dr Martina Gleeson, on her work in the area of transgender health, as well as her contributions to episode eight, Transitions ‘Reflecting on Trans-Affirmative Health Care’.  Martina is a General Practitioner, a GP supervisor with over 30 years experience, and a clinical editor for health pathways.

In this article Martina shares her clinical experiences in the area and her thoughts on what it’s like to podcast with MHPN, by answering four questions.

1. Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be involved in the Transitions podcast series?

I’m a GP and a GP supervisor with over 30 years experience. Like many GPs, a significant proportion of my consultations have some mental health content. I have been involved with my local [interdisciplinary practitioner] MHPN network since its inception many years ago [and have] suggested speakers to present to our organisation on the mental health aspects of transgender people.

Having some trans patients stimulated me to seek my own education on the topic and develop some competency in gender affirming care and to seek to pass on what I have learned. I recently presented at my local MHPN Sutherland Shire on the topic and as a result I was invited to participate in Transitions.

2. In terms of your contributions to the episode and the wider MHPN podcast program, did the podcasting format (its accessibility; the production process; MHPN’s audience of mental health practitioners and the general public) influence what you said or how you said it? How do you balance sharing your specific experiences and topical expertise with broader considerations of the diverse lived experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community.

I tried to be focused on patient centred care which reflects my practice. I hope my answers reflected my acceptance of the diverse lived experiences of the community. Whilst the podcast is aimed at mental health practitioners, I was aware that members of the community might listen to it. My main goal was to assist mental health practitioners to feel that they could provide basic respect and affirmation of people seeking care because I am aware that engaging with health services can cause distress for members of the community when that respect/ affirmation is not demonstrated.

3. Can you share any highlights, notable experiences, or new insights gained from contributing your time and expertise to the Transitions series?

Preparing for the podcast forced me to try to clarify my approach and message and reflect on my experience so far. It also gave me an opportunity to try to contribute to ongoing education of practitioners so that they can feel more comfortable providing care and therefore make their patients also feel more comfortable and affirmed.

4. If you could leave listeners of your episode with three main points regarding the topic of navigating major life transitions, what would they be?

Be respectful and curious in working with people who are considering pursuing assistance with gender affirmation and transition. On the other hand, don’t make the patient responsible for your education but seek information to assist you.

Just like in many presentations, meet the patient where they are at and walk with them. Explore all aspects of the presentation and use your skills to help them navigate their journey. Perhaps not all aspects of their presentation will be related to their transition. You can still help with the tools to help them navigate.

Educate yourself and seek information to assist you. Further information on the Australian Standards of Care and Treatment and other resources are linked below:

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