16 November 2023 – Parents, health professionals, human rights experts and advocates have welcomed the Senate’s rejection of a bill that sought to ban common forms of gender-affirming care for young people.
The bill was stopped from going to an inquiry when it was voted down by 32 senators to 23 in the Senate on Thursday morning.
“This bill was an unprecedented attack on the rights of trans young people to access the health care they need,” said Equality Australia Legal Director Ghassan Kassisieh.
The bill sought to ban common forms of gender affirming care for young people, including puberty blockers and hormonal treatments, and would cancel the registration of health care providers if they delivered that care, including doctors, pharmacists and psychologists.
It went so far as requiring health practitioners to wean young people off their prescribed medicines.
“Denying young people access to the gender affirming care they seek would cause them immeasurable trauma and irreversible harm” he said.
"Medical decisions are for patients not parliaments to make, supported by parents and clinicians who know the risks and benefits and can put the individual concerned at the centre of any decision."
Former health minister Greg Hunt received advice in 2020 from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) that found 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 and provide no further scientific evidence to support approaches to care.
"Australian courts have repeatedly approved this treatment, recognising it represents the orthodox middle approach among the medical community."
Carlie Morris, parent of a trans child and spokesperson for P-TYE (Parents for Transgender Youth Equity):
“How could a politician possibly know what a child needs more than their mother or father, or more than the highly- trained medical professionals who have come to know and care for them over many years.
“Parents work diligently with the medical practitioners that care for their kids and together they make evidence-based decisions about the best treatment for their child.
“This process is not only a responsibility but also a fundamental right for parents, allowing them to support the ongoing well-being and health of their children, ensuring they can grow up happy and able to thrive.
“I should not have to compromise my daughter’s access to health care for the sake of political opportunism and waste time fighting the ignorance and intolerance that causes my child, and many others, so much hurt and pain.
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that no child should be deprived of their right of access to health care services. We wouldn’t deny a diabetic child access to insulin. Why is it any different for my child?
“And just imagine how you would feel at the thought of that necessary treatment for your child being debated publicly under the threat of it being ripped away altogether.”
Dr Michelle Dutton, a GP and Chair of the RACGP Transgender and Gender Diverse Healthcare Specific Interest group:
“This bill claims to be about protecting children. You do not protect people by denying them access to life saving healthcare.
“What this bill seeks to do would cause untold suffering for trans and gender diverse young people. It does not protect. It puts young lives at risk.”
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.”
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.”
Interviews can be arranged with the people quoted in the release.
Contact: Emily Mulligan email@example.com, 0411 207 633