Support and understanding, for all colours of the rainbow 

1 February 2022


By College staff writer

As a busy GP, an avid cyclist and mum to two small boys, Dr Kim Hurst has a lot on her plate. And as a member of the rainbow community since her 20’s, she’s also a big advocate for open conversations and leaving assumptions at the door. 

“I’ve always been pretty ‘out’,” she says, “and in the past 10 years, I’ve noticed how there’s generally more acknowledgement of the rainbow community. But I think in the medical profession, we’re still quite focused on seeing things through a very heteronormative lens. 

“Often it’s the little things that can really help to break down barriers, like asking for preferred names rather than just going by what’s on a birth certificate, and avoiding using terms like Mr and Mrs, unless you know the people.”

The UK-born doctor, came to New Zealand 12 years ago having never been here. 

“I’d just finished up working as a military GP. I didn’t own a house or a practice so I figured it would be a good time to look at other opportunities and New Zealand seemed like great option for a doctor who loves the outdoors

Kim says a lack of understanding about LGBTTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, takatāpui, queer, intersex, asexual) people can be exhausting for members of the rainbow community. 

“I think a lot of healthcare providers don’t realise that it can feel like you ‘come out’ every day, not just once, because you’re having to explain things all the time. This is why it’s important to normalise discussions, and to learn to approach things in a less black and white way.”  

Kim says that with one in 20 people in New Zealand now identifying as non-heteronormative, all GPs will have rainbow patients, even if they don’t realise it. “I have seen how medical people who’re not in the rainbow community can miss certain clues when dealing with LGBTTQIA+ clients. For example, people in the rainbow community often avoid pronouns, they use ‘they.’”

For Kim, part of the appeal of being a GP is getting to support the community, and she says it’s time to extend that support to those who’ve been marginalised or excluded. “Walking alongside our patients is a real privilege we have, it’s part of what makes it so rewarding. But we tend to forget about the things we don’t see. I think there is more of an opportunity now to include people, like the rainbow community, who are often overlooked.”

Away from the clinic, you’re likely to find cycling-mad Kim hitting the mountain bike and cyclo-cross trails. She’s represented New Zealand in mountain biking and cyclo-cross world cups, and won several national titles. Most recently, she’s been involved with creating kids’ cycling events.

“I got into cycling quite young, I grew up in Wales, and there’s not much to do there except ride your bike! I really enjoy the cycling community in New Zealand, and we have some amazing rides right on our doorstep here,” she says.

“I was riding in Sedona, Arizona, and I went into a bike shop there and saw someone reading about cycling the Old Ghost Road on the West Coast of New Zealand! Cyclists from all over the world love what we have here. And with travel out of the picture because of COVID, it makes you appreciate even more what we have at home.”   

As Kim, soon-to-be-wife Emma, and their two young boys are currently preparing for a move from Upper Hutt to Queenstown, there’s bound to be more South Island adventures on the cards. 

“Emma’s actually the only one who’s seen our new house yet, so that’s trust for you! We’re really excited, and I’m looking forward to starting work there.”