Izzy Crossland Youtility

  • Tauira / Student
    Izzy Crossland
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Tim Turnidge, Jo Bailey, Ant Nevin

Despite advancements in Assisted Reproductive Technology options that enable rainbow people to become parents, heteronormativity and cisnormativity still dominate reproductive experiences like fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth in Aotearoa. Even our most accredited fertility providers still use binary language and blur the lines with infertility, leaving many people unaware or misinformed of their options, perpetuating homophobia, transphobia, gender dysphoria, discrimination, and mistrust in healthcare providers.

Youtility is an Aotearoa-based platform and community that aims to ease the uncertainties and barriers that come with navigating LGBTQI+ takatāpuhi fertility care, enabling rainbow people independence to explore options for becoming parents. Bridging the gap between internet deep-dives and healthcare professionals, Youtility sets up LGBTQI+ people for a positive start to their parenting journey, connecting them with culturally competent, affirming care and resources.

To do this, Youtility adopted a three-touchpoint, community-centred design strategy. Experience, a web-based questionnaire; Inform, a tailored information resource; and Sustain, a resource for fertility providers; supported by a social media presence to foster a community among users.

The research process uncovered many barriers and pain points in a space that is still relatively untouched. While this provided many design opportunities, it was important to not tackle too much. Instead of trying to solve the implications encountered, Youtility connects users to existing support systems.

This takes place through Youtility’s questionnaire web experience. Users are guided through questions to specify their goals for starting a family. The terminology talks about reproductive ‘elements’ (i.e. sperm/eggs), not gender or sexuality so users aren’t required to ‘come out’ during the experience.

Youtility’s visual style is welcoming and approachable, with a friendly tone of voice. The narrow colour palette of blues and purples is contemporary, whilst trustworthy as a health-related resource. A bright pop of neon was incorporated for variation, but Youtility avoids a colourful, stereotypically ‘rainbow’ colour palette, as this doesn’t resonate with all users. By intentionally excluding photographs, Youtility eliminates the risk of users' identities determining access. Regular usability testing with a wide group of users helped to gain broad perspectives, validate the experience, and uncover logistical issues early.

The questionnaire generates a personalised, printable resource based on users’ responses. This can be emailed but is not stored, giving users control over their data without obligations or signup requirements. To action their plan, users are offered a free consultation with a Youtility-approved fertility doctor.

Three P’s for Practitioners is a poster for providers to ensure they continue to create safe spaces and provide affirming care to rainbow patients. Taking the form of a one-pager, the resource is easy to access and scan, as well as signaling to clients that their doctors are rainbow-friendly when displayed.

Youtility represents a small step in the potential to reshape the narrative of LGBTQI+ fertility care in Aotearoa. While access to reproductive options will vary due to various factors, at the very least, everyone deserves to have access to this information.