South Australian MP calls for state inquiry into “gender affirming care” for young people

South Australian MP calls for state inquiry into “gender affirming care” for young people

By Stephanie Bastiaan

“We must avoid this becoming one of the biggest medical scandals of our time.” – Hon. Frank Pangallo MLC

South Australian MP Frank Pangallo moved a motion in the Legislative Council last Wednesday calling for a parliamentary committee to be formed to investigate support and treatment for young people struggling with gender dysphoria. 

He is one of three Australian MPs this year – joining Victorian MP Moira Deeming and South Australian Senator Alex Antic – to request an urgent parliamentary inquiry into the medical scandal engulfing the Australian healthcare system when it comes to minors struggling with gender identity issues. 

In his speech, Mr Pangallo told the parliament that he was concerned by the social contagion elements of gender dysphoria and the rapid pace at which it is spreading across the world.

“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 medical and mental health professionals grappling with the ethics and standards being applied to treat this condition, 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.

Mr Pangallo has requested the committee to investigate: the healthcare and related support services provided and options available to children, adolescents and young adults seeking services for gender dysphoria or other gender identity-related issues in South Australia; the role, rights and obligations of parents and guardians of minors; and the public funding of health and education services in South Australia in relation to sex and gender-related issues. 

“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,” he noted.

In South Australia, minors 17 and under who are struggling with gender dysphoria are referred to the Gender Diversity team at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide. According to data produced by the South Australian Department of Health, it is estimated that up to 2,172 children are seeking care for gender dysphoria between the ages of 6 and 17. The largest cohort of referrals are children between the ages of 11-15. Referrals grow by approximately 38% each year. 

Mr Pangallo also shared a story to the parliament of a concerned father whose 10-year-old daughter was confirmed to have gender dysphoria and recommended puberty blockers during her second 45-minute consultation with a psychiatrist at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide. This was despite her gender identity flipping from female to male to nonbinary. 

Girls are alarmingly overrepresented when it comes to presenting with gender dysphoria. A study from the gender clinic at Westmead Hospital in 2021 found common factors of childhood trauma, family dysfunction and sexual abuse amongst children presenting with gender dysphoria along with correlating factors of comorbid mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, behaviour disorders and autism. 

The increasing rates of those who regret their medical transition (also known as ‘detransitioners’) are evidence that misdiagnosis is a serious issue in the Australian healthcare system. This is devastating when considering that surgery, puberty blockers and cross-sex hormone drugs prescribed to ‘medically affirm’ a patient’s gender identity are permanent, irreversible and often with debilitating side effects. 

Progressive countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Holland and England are moving away from the medical transition of minors as evidence emerges showing that these treatments are producing poor outcomes for patients.

Australia needs to hold an inquiry into medicalised gender affirming care for minors at both a state and federal level. The future of vulnerable children depends on it.

Women’s Forum Australia has written to all South Australian MPs urging them to support Mr Pangallo’s motion, and encourages all South Australians to also contact their MPs in this regard.

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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