Sex And Gender Education (Australia) Life Over Suicide Project Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We have been asked a series of questions about the project so here we give some answers.
Q. What is the project about?
A. It is about raising the public profile of the issues around suicide and suicidal thoughts experienced by people from sex and/or gender diverse (SGD) groups in Australia. We are also particularly interested in why and how you did not commit suicide. What changed for you?
Q. Do I have to be Australian to take part?
A. Yes you have to be Australian, living in Australia, have permanent residency in Australia or live long term in Australia. The project is specifically focused around Australia.
Q. How old do I need to be?
A. You can contribute from 18 years old onwards or from 14 years onwards with a guardian’s written permission.
Q. Do I have to live in certain parts of Australia?
A. You can live anywhere in Australia.
Q. What if I am not good at writing this out?
A. We can arrange for you to receive a telephone call and we will take your information by telephone, type it out and send it to you for your approval. or you can ask for changes.
Q. Is there any payment?
A. No, this is a voluntary project and no one who contributes to the project gets paid. It is strictly a not-for-profit project.
Q. How is the project financed?
A. All expenses for the project are paid by O’Keefe & Fox Industries Pty Ltd.
Q. Does anyone profit financially from the project?
A. No one profits financially from the project.
Q. Is it just the stories?
A. As well as the stories we are also carrying out research so you can contribute in different ways e.g. by contributing a story or giving information about your experience in an open discussion interview about your experience.
Q. Can I contribute anonymously?
A. For a lot of research you can but for this project we need you to identify yourself. SAGE is a campaign group for the rights and dignity of people from sex and/or gender diverse groups, so for this project and the study we are asking people to be public. It gives the project more authenticity and validity because the project can show that it involves real people. Historically progress is made in campaigning by people identifying themselves publicly: people such as Radclyffe Hall, Roberta Cowell, Georgina Somerset, Stephen Whittle, Christine Burns, Tiger Devore, Jamison Green, Caroline Cossey, April Ashley, Mark Rees, Hanne Gaby Odiele, Carol Spencer, Tony Briffa, Norrie May-Welby and many more.
For many years’ campaigners for sex and/or gender diverse groups did not have legal traction to change laws to protect these populations. We were told by doctors and society to be quiet and not let anyone know what we were. Many people were stealth. Some doctors would dismiss patients from their clinics for letting other people know what they were. Medical records were hidden from many intersex people so they did not know they were intersex. Trans people were harassed and ridiculed by newspapers. We were taught to have shame and hide.
Only in the 1990s, when the internet arrived, were we able to meet each other and campaign effectively to change laws and gain human rights. Unfortunately, with the Trump Government in the USA human rights have gone backward. In Australia we have the Prime Minister Scott Morrison who makes derogatory tweets about sex and/or gender diverse groups of people on Twitter. We still experience some religious groups who publicly try to shame us for what we are.
In the present political climate many senior politicians now ignore research. They ignore statistics and they ignore research that does not have a personal face. For these reasons we are asking people to step forward and be personally identified in the SGD Life Over Suicide project; just as how many of us stepped forward to be publicly identified to change laws and human rights around being from a sex and/or gender diverse group of people.
We understand that many people live stealth and their sex and gender differences are not known to the public or even their friends and we respect that is the right choice for them and they have a right to privacy.
Suicide is also still considered a sin and shameful. If you voice that you have had suicidal thoughts publicly you are labeled as unstable. So, if you are from a sex and/or gender diverse group and you have had suicidal thoughts,you can experience a double stigma. In speaking out publicly about these issues we seek, at SAGE, to demystify, inform and educate.
It is a method of research called organic inquiry from a feminist transpersonal humanistic perspective. We at SAGE do not believe we are less than other human beings. The journey out of suicide for people from sex and/or gender diverse groups is a valid transformational journey of finding our own power and self-worth. For this, being anonymous would be dehumanising and being public is more humanising.
Q. Will my details be made public?
A. Your name will be public in the project and research but your contact details are protected by data protection and we will not be sharing them with any other body.
Q. What are people from sex and/or gender diverse groups?
A. Sex and/or gender diverse people are made up from many differing groups including people who are intersex, transexed, transsexual, transgendered, androgynous, without sex and gender identity, cross-dressers and people with sex and gender culturally specific differences.
We pride ourselves at SAGE for not pushing you into describing yourself in ways that you do not agree with. We would see that as appropriation of your experience. We know that some people with sex and gender differences will identify other than the previous labels so we are open to hearing what your experience is and how you describe yourself.
Q. What if I am not comfortable being associated with other groups that are sex and/or gender diverse?
A. We do not in any way discriminate. We believe at SAGE that all people who experience difference in sex and gender presentation deserve human rights and dignity. The SAGE collective comes from many different sex and/or gender diverse groups.
Q. Which university or government department is the project and research associated with?
A. This is independent research. We specifically have not associated with a university or a government department. Research at universities is prone to academic distortion and the academia of the university can seek to influence research to reflect the academic position, causing data or analysis distortion. This is very clear when we look historically how academia sought to pathologise and distort the histories of sex and/or gender diverse groups of people. Academia should reflect research, not research reflect academic interests.
Research associated with governments is forced to reflect the position of the government of the day. Those within power may shut down or withdraw funds from research projects, even in some cases bury the research. This has been common in Australia.
Therefore, by being an independent project and research it is easy not to have the information around the project or research distorted by outside influences.
We endeavour to carry out the research within standard ethical guidelines and research industry standards.
Q. Can you help if I am suicidal?
A. We cannot help if you are presently suicidal and you would not be suitable for the project or research. When carrying out projects like this and research there must be clear boundaries observed that stop distortion of the research. On every page of the Life Over Suicide Stories at the bottom of the page are suggestions for you to get help. You would need to seek the immediate help of a local mental health professional.
Q. What if being involved in the project or research re-triggers my suicidal thoughts and behaviours?
A. In you participating in the project and research we emphasise that we are seeking people who have already passed beyond the suicide phase, changed your mental perspective and decided to live. If, however, being involved in the project or research triggers you and you move toward suicide we recommend you would need to seek the immediate help of a local mental health professional. You can contact us and we will help you connect with local mental health services.
Q. Who is carrying out the research?
A. I, Tracie O’Keefe (Member of the Psychotherapy And Counselling Federation of Australia (College of Psychotherapy) Australian Society of Sex Educators, Researchers and Therapists) NSW), with help from other SAGE members and vetted outside help, am carrying out the research. I am trained in research and am a mental health professional with over 45 years’ experience of working with people from sex and/or gender diverse groups. My Mental Health supervisor for the project is Nadia Hjij RN, MA, Mental Health Nurse (Clinical Nurse Specialist), Bachelor of Health Sciences in Naturopathy, Masters in Nursing, Masters in Mental Health Nursing, Masters in Public and International Health.
Q. Where will the research be published?
A. The research will be made public. Research is not offered to a journal until it is complete and we are only in the process of carrying out the project and research at the moment.
Q. Who will benefit from the project and research?
A. Putting this information from the project and research into the public arena will help inform the public, health professionals and policy makers around the issues and circumstances that induce suicidal thoughts in people from sex and/or gender diverse groups.
Q. What happens to my data and story?
T. When you submit information it goes into our SAGE database. After you have submitted the comments and story, you sign a release form that will be sent to you to say you allow the data to be used and published. At that point the data becomes the property of the researcher and you may not legally republish anywhere at any time. We do this so the project and research is protected. The story will be published immediately on the SAGE website but the research may take a few years as it takes many hundreds of hours of work.
If you give an interview by telephone, that auditory recording will never be published and will be destroyed a month after the original interview.
Your personal contact details are stored in the SAGE database and you receive updates and information from until such time as you no longer wish to be part of the collective.
Q. What do I need to do next?
A. Go to the top of the project page and follow the instructions to contact us and/or to submit your story.
We are happy to respond to any further questions you may have. Simply contact us.