February 12, 2024 - National LGBTIQ+ group Equality Australia has welcomed calls by Australia’s peak medical body to urgently improve access to gender-affirming care and to protect the doctors providing it.
The Australia Medical Association’s 2023 position statement, published this week, calls on the Federal Government to “urgently enhance access” to gender-affirming treatments, including through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Medicare Benefits Schedule.
It also states that medical practitioners who provide gender affirming care should be “protected and supported” following news last year that medical insurer MDA National was restricting cover for practitioners caring for trans youth.
Equality Australia's Legal Director Ghassan Kassisieh said the right for trans people to access gender-affirming care was supported by major medical bodies in Australia and internationally.
“We have some of the world’s leading clinicians and experts in transgender healthcare in Australia and they are best placed to help people make decisions about the kinds of care they want and need,” he said.
“When people are given power over their own lives and medical care, it is affirming, liberating and positively life changing.”
The AMA states that gender-affirming care is linked with a range of positive health outcomes for people who are trans and gender diverse and that studies indicate regret from undergoing gender-affirming surgery is rare.
The AMA statement also condemned the “systemic discrimination, abuse, and prejudice against young trans and gender diverse people seeking gender-affirming care”.
Mr Kassisieh said the reality was that young trans people often struggled to access the care they need.
“The key issues impacting trans young people and their families include the lack of appropriately funded health and support services coupled with high rates of harassment and abuse,” he said.