Peak psychiatry body’s landmark shift away from ‘gender affirming care’ for kids

Peak psychiatry body’s landmark shift away from ‘gender affirming care’ for kids

By Stephanie Bastiaan

The Royal Australian and New Zealand Royal College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) have released a statement backing a holistic approach to managing gender dysphoria in young people and children rather than the gender affirmation model, in which a child’s perceived gender is unquestioningly affirmed by doctors.


This is a significant development as an increasing number of Australian doctors and psychiatrists have been sanctioned in their workplace for raising concerns about the lack of evidence to support the model and the harm it is causing children and adolescents.

"Psychiatrists should remain open and explore the experience and range of support/treatment options that may best address the young person's needs." -RANZCP December 2023

 In the statement, the RANZCP calls for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with gender dysphoria to be evidence-informed, person-centred and responsive to and supportive of the child or young person's needs.

"The benefits and potential harms of both medical and psychosocial interventions for TGD children and young people have limited evidence" -RANZCP December 2023

The statement also raises critical issues dismissed by Australian gender clinics, including that there is limited evidence to support medical and psychosocial intervention for children and young people and that gender dysphoria is often accompanied by other mental health conditions such as ADHD and ASD, and there should be screening and treatment to address these mental health issues. RANZCP also notes the health authorities in many European countries have restricted the use of puberty suppressants and cross-sex hormones on young people. 

"The RANZCP recognises that some people having commenced gender-affirming care, discontinue, pause care or seek reversal of treatment" -RANZCP December 2023

There is limited data on the number of detransitioners in Australia due to poor follow-up and record treatment by relevant medical authorities. The statement notes that the actual rates of regret are unknown, that those who detransition report the process has harmed them, and that they struggle with grief and loss due to the irreversible nature of the treatments on their health, appearance and fertility. The RANZCP calls on medical professionals to be frank about the irreversible nature of medical treatments and that medical intervention may not help their gender dysphoria. 

Earlier this year, the RANZCP announced at their bi-annual national conference that they would be lobbying the federal government to facilitate national guidelines with the emergence of conflicting opinions on the evidence for best medical practice. 

Bernard Lane at Gender Clinic News recently reported that Queensland Children's Hospital has commenced a review of its gender clinic; however, Child Psychiatrist Dr Jillian Spencer expressed concerns on Sky News that the review was measuring their practices against the Australian Standards of Care and Treatment Guidelines for Trans and Gender Diverse Children and Adolescents produced by the Royal Children’s Hospital gender clinic who reaffirmed their commitment to the medical transition of minors in their review of the guide in November 2023. 

These guidelines have not been adopted by any government department or regulatory healthcare bodies and only have the endorsement of the trans-activist healthcare group Australian Professional Association for Trans Health (AusPath). 

The updated statement from RANZCP is a step in the right direction. It is in sharp contrast with the approach of Australian gender clinics, which not only promote the transition of minors as a critical treatment for gender dysphoria but champion medical treatment on prepubescent patients to suppress puberty, downplaying the risks and side effects of treatment.

However, medical professionals are also bound by state and territory legislation that can dictate how patients with gender dysphoria are to be treated. In Queensland, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, medical professionals are restricted from taking a holistic approach to care under 'conversion therapy' laws.

While the international medical world moves towards better models of care, Australian politicians continue to ignore the mounting evidence from victims and experts that the affirmation model is harming children.

Medical treatment that includes medicating and mutilating minors to simulate being the opposite sex should never have been put on the table.

Australia urgently needs an inquiry. This is an issue that needs bipartisan support. The question is, how great does the collateral need to be before our MPs act?

Stephanie Bastiaan is a Research Fellow with Women’s Forum Australia

Women’s Forum Australia is an independent think tank that undertakes research, education and public policy advocacy on issues affecting women and girls, with a particular focus on addressing behaviours and practices that are harmful and abusive to them. We are a non-partisan, non-religious, tax-deductible charity. We do not receive any government funding and rely solely on donations to make an impact. Support our work today.

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