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Doctors Voice Concerns Over Gender Treatments For Children

by | Wed, Nov 15 2023

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The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) has praised dozens of doctors who’ve voiced their “serious professional concerns” over the treatment of children with gender dysphoria. 35 specialists in the field including psychiatrists and psychologists have written an open letter to New South Wales MPs. They question the evidence used to support surgery, puberty blockers and hormone treatments for children.

The ACL’s Queensland Director Rob Norman told Vision Radio: “This is fantastic news. Unfortunately doctors have not felt safe to speak out on issues such as this because of the kind of way we’ve rushed into an affirmative model or a model of affirmation. Both New South Wales and Tasmania are considering conversion therapy legislation based on models of affirmation which essentially means if a person and often young people as young as 12, even if they seek to change their gender or their sex, then the only option that medical people have, or counsellors or pastors or even parents, is to affirm the person in that decision.”

“So it’s a great thing that these doctors are now speaking out and it’s a larger group that is speaking out. We should be really encouraged by that. The rest of the rest of the world is virtually walking away from this affirmation model. Most of Europe now is stepping back from it. We’ve seen the [UK’s] Tavistock clinic shut down. So there’s definitely a change happening, but Australia is behind the eight ball,” Mr. Norman added.

The Australian reports: “The NSW government framework for gender diverse health services was released in July to guide treatment and care decisions by NSW Health clinicians, private clinicians, GPs, transgender and gender diverse young people, and address the growing demand in NSW for expert clinical care for transgender young people. The medical and health professionals [who wrote the open letter] said the framework was ‘flawed’ and could cause ‘unnecessary and irreversible harms’ to the state’s most vulnerable young people if adopted uncritically.”

The medical professionals asserted that the framework ignores the “cautious” models adopted by the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Finland and France. They also criticised the NSW government’s decision to appoint the Sax Institute to undertake a review which formed the basis of the framework, questioning the “validity and reliability” of the evidence they used to support the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for children and young people, The Australian wrote.

The Sax Institute is a non-profit “evidence specialist” organisation that examines health policy and research, but the signatories of the letter wrote: “We question the institute’s capacity to provide balanced and comprehensive advice to the NSW Government on this sensitive and complex matter.”

“The framework also makes claims in support of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for children and young people that have been disputed or have a weak evidence base. It prioritises the ‘affirmation model’ for medically transitioning children and young people grappling with gender dysphoria, even though this treatment model has been dramatically scaled back in the UK and several European countries. We also firmly believe that NSW’s gender treatment framework needs to be urgently reconsidered,” the open letter reads.

The Australian concludes that “the fact that so many clinicians have been willing to put their names to such a letter is a significant development in the evolving debate over the care of children with gender dysphoria and gender distress.”

The newspaper writes that: “The UK’s highly respected National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, whose guidelines are seen as the gold standard on a wide array of health issues, has undertaken reviews that cast doubt on the clinical value of puberty blockers and questioned the safety and effectiveness of gender-affirming hormones. Yet, Australia’s major children’s hospitals have refused to examine their own policies and administration of puberty blockers to children in the wake of the international developments.”