The Australian Christian Lobby is urging support for a South Australian parliamentary select committee inquiry into the medical treatment of children with gender dysphoria. SA-BEST Upper House MP and former journalist Frank Pangallo has tabled a motion calling for the inquiry.
He told the Parliament: “This subject is perhaps one of the most complex and controversial medical issues confronting our society today. From the troubled children and adolescents being engulfed by it; to the medical and mental health professionals grappling with the ethics and standards being applied to treat this condition; to our educators who are being confronted by young people uncertain about who they are as they map their learning future through a maze of other personality problems; and finally to the families being torn apart over the welfare of their own children through the phenomenon and sudden surge of gender transformation and ideology.”
“There is a striking division globally within the medical and mental health professions about the treatment of gender dysphoria. On one side, there is support for intervention and criticism for delays they say could be harmful. On the other side, there is the view that these interventions are unnecessary and harmful, calling for a more cautious approach to the medical affirmation model.”
“Many international jurisdictions are moving in this direction, including France, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, the US and Finland, which issued new guidelines that emphasise that psychotherapy be first considered before medical interventions for the treatment of gender dysphoric youth and no sex change surgery for minors.”
“This social contagion, relatively obscure in the last century, and mostly associated with pre-pubescent boys, is now sweeping the world at such a frenetic pace that it is becoming increasingly difficult to determine whether the practices and policies being promoted by government-funded interest organisations and other self-interest groups, then being put in place by well-meaning medical institutions, are helping individuals or is it causing them more harm than good in the long term? Is it evidence based?”
“This is the intent of the select committee I am proposing. I understand there are many members in this place who may find this difficult to engage with because of the sensitivity of the subject matter involved. I want to make clear my own position, which I have not taken lightly. It is not to be seen as a reflection of any pre-conceived views or hysterical prejudices about the transgender community.”
“This is all about having a balanced perspective and learning more, so that we as legislators can take a far more responsible approach in dealing with it. To ignore it would be at the peril of those we are trying to assist. I fully expect to be attacked by the transactivists and ideologues who dominate this arena. However, I want them to participate and contribute, to put aside the vexed politics. Yet, raising it in the proper context of a public debate still attracts fury, hate and retribution.”
Mr. Pangallo read out an impassioned letter from a father of a daughter with gender dysphoria and the medical and legal minefield he had to negotiate while opposing medical intervention which his ex-wife and mother of the girl supported. Eventually, the father managed to avoid medical treatment for now, after an intense discussion with his child who identifies as non-binary. “We dodged a bullet; no doubt about it,” he wrote.
The father also referred to a previous statement to the State Parliament: “As of 13 September 2022, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Gender Diversity Service currently prescribes puberty blockers to 68 youth ranging between the ages of 10 and 17. All youth accessing the gender diversity service need to have a formal assessment by a psychiatrist prior to treatment commencement and are reviewed every three to six months while receiving ongoing mental health support.”
Mr. Pangallo told Parliament: “Dr. Georgie Swift, the psychiatrist involved in setting up the gender clinic at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in North Adelaide, told a psychiatry conference only last month that the evidence for gender affirming treatment was not robust. Here is what she told the conference:
I’m reasonably confident to say that no matter where you stand on gender-affirming health care for children and adolescents, that you agree that we need more evidence — our evidence isn’t robust, it isn’t good enough.
“In other words, the evidence is weak. She went on to say there were many unknowns in gender medicine, and the impact on quality of life and mental health, and that professionals were still waiting for more evidence. So what is happening here? We have doctors who are conducting a live social experiment with young patients without the proper professional, ethical and efficacy protocols being undertaken for a clinical trial,” Mr. Pangallo concluded.
He noted: “In October 2019, the National Association of Practising Psychiatrists wrote to the then federal health minister Mr. Greg Hunt requesting a parliamentary inquiry into the treatment of gender dysphoria in Australia. In their words, not mine:”
The current approach to the treatment of gender dysphoria in children and adolescents under the age of 18 has become a controversial subject within the medical community.
“Today, I call on our current federal health minister, the Hon. Mark Butler MP, to follow through on that request. Our gender clinics have allowed ideology to overtake their duty of care and the guiding principle to “first, do no harm”, and our children deserve better.”
But Australian lawmakers are reluctant to assess the latest evidence. Just last week, the Senate rejected a request by South Australian Liberal Senator Alex Antic to refer his Childhood Gender Transition Prohibition Bill 2023 to a Senate hearing. It sought to ban gender reassignment surgery and treatment for teenagers. “All I was asking for here was for this bill to be referred off to a hearing, it’s just getting evidence before the Senate,” Senator Antic told Sky News.
“So that would include getting those who are for this treatment, and those that are against this treatment in, but somehow that solicited a fairly animated response. I think what we’re seeing here is almost this closed-book approach to this. There is only one answer and it must be to have surgery and puberty-blocking drugs for kids when they exhibit these symptoms,” the Senator asserted.
The ACL has launched an email campaign encouraging South Australians to write to their state MPs and urge them to support Mr. Pangallo’s motion for a select committee inquiry.