Many question gender transition model for under 18s
Many health professionals are alarmed at proposed laws that would ban therapy for young people and children experiencing gender dysphoria that do not fall under the affirmation model which includes puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and surgery.
The Victorian government intends to introduce a ban on so-called conversion therapy this year.
In Queensland, a push to introduce a ban was delayed in February after a parliamentary committee urged the government to review parts of its proposed legislation and provide clarity on which health services would fall under the ban.
It defined conversion therapy as “a treatment or other practice that attempts to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.
Included in the proposed law was any treatment management strategy that did not explicitly affirm and aim at assisting the person to assume a different gender identity than the one corresponding to their sex at birth.
Anyone deviating from the affirmation model could fall under suspicion of introducing a form of conversion therapy, with a maximum 18 month jail term.
Law a blunt instrument for minors with gender dysphoria, warns doctor
In February the Australian Medical Association Queensland questioned the use of transgender drugs and surgery for children saying it supports the concerns of leading psychiatrist Dr Philip Morris about children and teenagers under 18 making decisions about life-altering hormonal treatment or surgery “now shown to be not without harm”.
Dr Eamonn Mathieson is one of the conveners of the upcoming Sex, Gender and the Human Person online conference on 30 May which will feature medical and legal experts and researchers challenging what he calls the “sudden orthodoxy” on gender dysphoria.
He told The Catholic Weekly there is a real risk of laws passing that would make any attempt to treat a child with gender dysphoria without helping them to transition from their sex at birth a form of ‘conversion therapy’ and therefore a form of abuse.
“That includes what used to be called the ‘wait and see’ approach whereby puberty would often correct the vast majority of boys or girls who have an issue with gender dysphoria,” Dr Mathieson said.
“That is legislation entering into the realm of medicine in a coercive way, and we also need to look at what is being done to children who are taken down the affirmation pathway.
“We are seeing in other countries the experiences of people who are now de-transitioning who say that the way they were managed was problematic.”
Sydney psychologist Dr Dianna Kenny, who will address the conference, told The Catholic Weekly she would advise “extreme caution” in affirming a young child’s cross-sex gender identity and cementing it in law.
“The research shows that the majority of children with gender dysphoria resolve to remain in their natal sex at or after the onset of puberty,” Dr Kenny said.
“All measures that assist a child’s social transition to a transgendered identity contribute to the inexorable path of gender affirmation involving puberty blockers, cross sex hormones and sex reassignment surgeries.
“There is a huge amount of misinformation being propagated by the trans activists that has disappointingly been taken up by governments and education departments that are now teaching children that there are many genders from which they can ‘choose’.
“Such action by the Victorian government would reinforce this misinformation by enshrining it in law.”
Medical professionals fear sanction
Dr Mathieson said a national discussion is needed on what constitutes acceptable medicine in the realm of managing gender dysphoria.
“For a doctor who is not really taken with the affirmation approach, it is very difficult and in private conversations they are afraid of professional sanctions even prior to any legislation being enacted for going against the transgender movement,” he said.
“And it can very difficult for parents to get help for their children if the entire medical establishment is capitulating in fear.”
For information on the conference see www.catholicmedicine.org