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NSW Govt ‘tone deaf’ on gender in wake of Cass report

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Those who continue to push gender-affirmative interventions on kids while ignoring the significance of the Cass Review are regressive, anti-science and anti-woman, says Monica Doumit. Photo: Unsplash.com
Those who continue to push gender-affirmative interventions on kids while ignoring the significance of the Cass Review are regressive, anti-science and anti-woman, says Monica Doumit. Photo: Unsplash.com

To open a new Sydney-based gender clinic for children and young people aged under 25 years mere days after the release of the scathing final report of the Cass Review has to be up there with the most tone-deaf decisions a government could make.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday that “the Minns government is establishing a new centre at a community-based site within the South Eastern Local Health District for patients aged under 25 years” to supplement the Westmead Hospital gender clinic that only treats children aged 16 and under. Given that the minimum legal age for the prescription of cross-sex hormones is 16 years of age, the proposed new gender clinic would likely be put in place to ensure kids currently on puberty blockers could then move to cross-sex hormones without having to go to a private provider or to the Hunter region.

However, this is already happening at an alarming rate. A report from the Westmead Hospital gender clinic published last year said that of the 79 kids referred to it in the five-year period between 2014 and 2019, 51 of them had been placed on cross-sex hormones at an average age of 16 years.

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The Daily Telegraph report came just 72 hours after the long-awaited release of the Cass Review into the treatment of children and young people with gender-related distress. Running to 400 pages, the landmark investigation into “gender-affirming care” in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service was the most comprehensive study into these matters we have ever seen.

Among its many findings, the report said there was no reliable evidence base for decisions by clinicians, patients or their families. It also found that the impact of puberty blockers on cognitive and psychosexual development is unknown and there is only weak evidence of their impact on gender dysphoria, mental or psychosocial health. Additionally, it found there is inadequate information about the long-term outcomes of placing children under 18 on cross-sex hormones.

Critically, the Cass Review found that “for most young people, a medical pathway will not be the best way to manage their gender-related distress.” This finding would suggest that the last thing children and young people need is another gender clinic popping up in metropolitan Sydney because the medical interventions offered by these clinics are not the best thing for kids with gender dysphoria. Indeed, it turns the current practice guidelines utilised in NSW, which heavily bias medical treatments for gender dysphoria, on their head.

Make no mistake: the Cass Report is as significant to the dangers of promoting gender-affirmative treatment in kids as the 1964 Surgeon-General report was to the link between smoking and lung cancer. It is explosive and ground-breaking and those who try to downplay its significance or applicability to Australia will be judged in the not-too-distant future as being complicit in the greatest medical scandal of our times.

What’s more, this medical maltreatment will have a disproportionate impact on adolescent girls, with a recent landmark study from the Australian Catholic University showing it is young women under the age of 25 who are most likely to report being “non-binary” or of a “diverse gender.” This is mirrored in the final report of the Cass Review, which shows that the overwhelming majority of those presenting to gender clinics are adolescent girls, rather than pre-pubescent boys, as was the case when the gender clinics first opened.

Far from being the champions of forward-thinking, science- and evidence-based medicine, those who continue to push gender-affirmative interventions on kids while ignoring the significance of the Cass Review are regressive, anti-science and anti-woman. While accusing others of being religious zealots, they are the ones who are so bound to their ideology that they will not let go of it, even for the sake of those they are purporting to champion.

It isn’t just the doctors, either. Those complicit in giving puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to kids include the entertainment industry, which ensures transgender and non-binary characters are included in every production, corporations shoving this down people’s throats, and even schools pushing Wear It Purple Day. The final report of the Cass Review means the clock is ticking for their ability to ignore the evidence.

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