18 October 2023 – Health professionals, human rights experts, transgender advocates and parents have slammed a “dangerous and absurd” bill that would ban common forms of gender-affirming care for young people.
The bill was introduced by Senators Alex Antic (Liberal Party), Malcolm Roberts (One Nation), Ralph Babet (UAP) and Matt Canavan (National) to Federal Parliament on Wednesday.
The bill would ban common forms of gender affirming care for young people, including puberty blockers and hormonal treatments, and cancel the registration of health care providers if they deliver that care, including doctors, pharmacists and psychologists.
The bill goes as far as requiring the health practitioners to wean young people off their prescribed medicines.
Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said the right for young people to access gender-affirming care was supported by major medical bodies in Australia and internationally.
“This bill is dangerous, absurd and an attack on the rights of trans and gender diverse young people to access the health care they desperately need,” she said.
“All the evidence shows that denying young people access to gender affirming care would cause them immeasurable trauma and harm and, in some cases, cost them their lives.
“We have some of the world’s leading clinicians and experts in transgender healthcare in Australia and in hearing over 60 cases regarding gender affirming care, the Family Court has never made a finding that gender affirming care is inappropriate or denied treatment to a young person.”
Ms Brown said the politicisation of essential healthcare for young trans people generated unnecessary and harmful debates about their existence.
“These are deeply personal decisions that should be left to young people, their parents and the doctors treating them. It’s not something that should be up for political debate,” she said.
“Access to healthcare is a basic and fundamental human right.”
Ms Brown pointed to advice former health minister Greg Hunt received in 2020 from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) that stated withholding or limiting access to gender affirming healthcare would be unethical and have serious impacts on the health and wellbeing of young people.
Mr Hunt subsequently rejected calls for a national inquiry into the treatment of trans and gender diverse children, acknowledging that it could further harm an already vulnerable group.
Dr Portia Predny, Vice President of AusPATH:
“The decision to undergo gender affirming medical care is a personal healthcare decision made by the patient, and in the case of younger people, with the support of their parents.
“It is facilitated by medical and other healthcare professionals who have knowledge, experience and expertise in this field of health care, and treatments are tailored to the individual and their needs.
“In some cases, this includes medical treatments such as hormones and puberty blockers, which are prescribed and monitored by experienced clinicians, following guidelines that have been established through research and clinical evidence, to ensure patient safety.”
“Research suggests that the number of people who detransition after receiving medical and surgical gender affirming treatments is exceedingly small.
“These experiences should not be used as an argument for restricting the access of the majority of gender diverse people to appropriate and necessary medical care.”
Lisa Newey, from PTYE (Parents for Transgender Youth Equity):
“My son would not have survived, let alone thrived, without the support of family, friends and the ability to access gender-affirming care. Being trans is not a “choice” - it is being who you are at your core.
“We should not have to compromise our children’s access to health care for the sake of political opportunism. We as parents should not have to waste time fighting ignorance and intolerance.”
Jeremy Wiggins, CEO of Transcend Australia:
“Families all over Australia tell us time and time again that gender affirming healthcare improved the mental health and physical wellbeing of their transgender children and without it, they fear their child may not still be here.
“To deny young people access to healthcare would be to deny them of their human rights and jeopardise their safety and wellbeing.
“Gender affirming healthcare for transgender young people gives Australian families hope that their children will have a better future.”
LGBTIQ+ Health Australia (LHA) CEO Nicky Bath:
“Gender-affirming care is crucial for the wellbeing of trans and gender-diverse youth, providing them with the opportunity to access life-saving and life-affirming support.
"Studies consistently show that denying access to gender affirming care, and subjecting trans and gender diverse young people to hostility, negatively impacts their mental health. Depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidality rates are a result of barriers to care, discrimination, and stigma.”