The number of children seeking gender transition has skyrocketed in recent years.
The West Australian reported that the number of children seeking gender help at Princess Margaret Hospital has increased, from about 25 per year, to a staggering 100 to 150 per year.
The clinic expanded its operations in 2015 with the aid of funding from the National Mental Health Commission. Safe Schools was also launched in 2015, which is hardly a coincidence – as we reported last week. Almost 250 children and adolescents have been referred to the gender clinic, and over 150 are currently in treatment. Two-thirds of the patients are girls.
Associate Professor Sam Winter, a member of the sexology department at Curtin University, said children seeking to change their gender should be supported. Speaking to The West Australian, Winter stated:
“There is more awareness now of the importance of support and information, and for those who later need it, hormones and perhaps even surgery,” he said.
“This service gives these kids the space emotionally to explore their identity and embrace whatever that is, particularly around the time of puberty.”
Professor Winter cautioned parents about being lured by some services which suggested confused children could be “put right”.
“These approaches are not only likely to be ineffective in the long run, they also run the risk of doing terrible harm to kids which is not what any parent wants,” he said.
Not surprisingly, Winter is a longtime LGBTI activist. Unfortunately, many such experts in the field of gender theory only encourage children to “explore their identity” – not to seek any other type of psychological or medical help, which can have disastrous effects, particularly if there are other mental health issues present.
Where LGBTI people are identified as such, service providers often focus on their sexual orientation, their trans identity or their intersex status rather than the mental health issue or suicidality with which they are presenting. For trans and intersex people this can be a focus on physical issues such as hormone treatment or surgery. Psychological issues may be brushed over or left out altogether. This can exacerbate the mental health problems and suicidality.
Despite possible good intentions, health practitioners who caution parents about programs aiming to “put right” their children are effectively putting children at risk. Programs which focus on more than just the physical attributes would help patients and parents to get to the heart of the issue – gender confusion – instead of trying to treat it with hormones and surgery. Just the concept of “puberty suppression” pathologises a perfectly normal aspect of human development.
Rather than hurrying gender-confused children and adolescents through hormonal and surgical treatments, these patients should be counselled on how to be comfortable in their own skin. Even the founder of Australia’s first gender clinic – psychiatrist Dr Steven Stathis – has said that many children “try out” transgenderism as a way to stand out from the crowd.
The long-term health implications of transgenderism are not yet well-known, but many adults who transitioned as children are coming forward to express regret over their decision. When health professionals speak out in favour of gender transition, can we really trust them?
Children experiencing gender confusion need to be given proper medical attention. The first port of call should be a psychiatrist who can evaluate their mental state before they are referred for hormonal treatments or surgery.
While the scrapping of Safe Schools in NSW and Tasmania was cause for relief among parents, a culture of gender experimentation persists across the nation.
For more trending news on gender, click here.
Check out our infographic on the effects of Safe Schools on children.