“Lifesaving” – trans equality and clinicians groups defend trans healthcare

10 May 2022 – Trans equality, peer support and healthcare groups have raised alarm and disappointment at the Prime Minister's comments regarding medical care for trans young people, inviting him to meet with trans and gender diverse people to educate himself about the challenges they face.  

The comments come after the Prime Minster claimed at a press conference that Australians were concerned with “gender reversal surgery for young adolescents.”  

“It’s deeply concerning to see the Prime Minister spreading these alarmist views when the reality is that young transgender people struggle to access the care that they need, when they need it”, said Jeremy Wiggins, Executive Officer of Transcend Australia. 

“These are personal decisions about healthcare that should be left to young people and the doctors and parents that support them, rather than debated by politicians in the middle of a federal election campaign.” 

“The real key issues impacting trans young people and their families are include the lack of appropriately funded health and support services, and the high rates of harassment and abuse, which are actually driving poor mental health rates for our community, resulting in higher rates of self-harm and suicidality.” 

“If the Morrison Government is serious about reducing suicide, then these debates need to be held sensitively with key experts including transgender people and their families. We invite the Prime Minister to meet with us, to better understand the challenges we face.”  

Dr Fiona Bisshop, President of AusPATH (Australian Professional Association for Trans Health) said she was disappointed that the Prime Minister failed to speak up for trans people, when asked whether he endorsed the comments by controversial candidate Katherine Deves. 

“I see how profoundly life changing and lifesaving gender affirming care can be for those young people that need it. Decisions about medical care should be made between the patient and their treating team, rather than being the subject of political debate.”  

“Genital surgery is only performed on adults. In rare cases, older trans teenage boys undergo surgery on their upper bodies. These treatments help young people to be able to leave the house, go to school and live their lives rather than stay at home crippled by anxiety and dysphoria. The difficulties experienced by trans young people are made all the worse by politicians with no expertise attacking their care. This needs to stop.” 

Anna Brown, lawyer and CEO of Equality Australia referred to the difficulties that young transgender people had experienced over time in accessing gender affirming care and the need for barriers to be removed rather than increased.  

“It’s incredibly disappointing to see our Prime Minister make these sorts of comments, about a very vulnerable group of Australians that he clearly knows little about.  

“We have some of the world’s leading clinicians and experts in transgender healthcare in Australia and the gender affirming model of care adopted in children’s hospitals in Australia has been upheld by the Family Court.  

“Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect when accessing the care they need.  

“Political parties and candidates should be focussed on how they can remove barriers to accessing lifesaving healthcare for trans people, and turning around the appalling mental health outcomes for these communities, rather than contributing to them through these cruel and uninformed debates”

Media Contact: Tara Ravens 0408 898 154, tara.ravens@equalityaustralia.org.au