Victorian MPs ignore the voices of those irreversibly harmed by ‘gender affirming care’

Victorian MPs ignore the voices of those irreversibly harmed by ‘gender affirming care’

Yesterday afternoon, Victorian MPs shamefully voted down a motion for an inquiry into the medicalised gender affirmation of minors, to ensure children with gender dysphoria are receiving the best possible evidenced-based care. The motion, which was moved by Liberal MP Moira Deeming in the Victorian Legislative Council, failed 21-16.

In advance of the motion, we sent all Victorian MPs videos of the presentations from the Child Safety & Consent Forum we recently co-hosted on this issue at the Victorian Parliament, featuring medical/legal experts and detransitioners who discussed the harms of medicalised gender affirmation practices on minors.

In our letter, we strongly urged all Legislative Council Members to support the motion. 

We also separately requested meetings with Labor Premier Jacinta Allan and Minister for Children Lizzie Blandthorn so that they could meet with and hear the personal experience of Melbourne woman Mel Jeffries, a young female detransitioner who has been irreversibly harmed by ‘gender affirmation’ treatments and surgeries. Our requests were ignored.

We know that many others – including detransitioners and those who have been personally harmed by gender affirmation practices – also contacted and implored MPs to support this critical motion for an inquiry.

Disappointingly, though perhaps not surprisingly, MPs from Labor, the Greens, the Legalise Cannabise Party, and the Animal Justice Party, chose to ignore the voices of those harmed by ‘gender affirming care’, instead opting to put politics and ideology above the welfare of children.

To add insult to injury, today during a speech in the Victorian Legislative Assembly, Victorian Labor Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas, with the support of Victorian Labor Premier Jacinta Allan, disgracefully grouped Deeming's commonsense motion in with "deliberate campaigns of trans hate".

This is despite the mounting medical evidence against the ‘affirmation only’ approach and the fact that the tide is turning on the approach to children presenting with gender dysphoria, both in Australia and overseas. For example:

A growing number of European countries are shifting away from the ‘gender affirming model of care’ for minors owing to the risks of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, instead adopting a far more restrictive and cautious approach with an emphasis on psychological support. This shift was similarly made by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists a couple of years ago.

Lawsuits continue to mount by those who have been harmed by medicalised gender affirmation practices and who regret their ‘transition’, including in Australia (particularly young women whose background trauma and underlying mental health issues were ignored by medical professionals).

Earlier this year, one of Australia’s largest medical insurers announced it will no longer covering GPs/private practitioners against legal claims arising from ‘gender transitioning treatment’ for patients under 18, stating “we don’t think we can accurately and fairly price the risk of regret”. Around the same time, top Victorian family law barrister Belle Lane delivered a significant legal paper to Australian Family Court judges, arguing that new research calls into question the 'gender-affirming model of care'.

Last month, Australian mainstream media platform 7NEWS Australia exposed the harms of medically ‘transitioning’ gender dysphoric children in its 7NEWS Spotlight documentary on detransitioners.

A couple of weeks ago, medical/legal experts, detransitioners, politicians and advocates called for an urgent inquiry into the medicalised gender affirmation of minors at a landmark forum held at the Victorian Parliament.

Last week, NSW MP Greg Donnelly called for an urgent, independent inquiry into a children’s gender clinic in Newcastle, citing “serious concerns regarding various treatment practices”, including inadequate record keeping, coercion of parents, and rushed, risky treatment practices.

And South Australia’s Senator Alex Antic has just announced he will introduce a bill banning gender transitioning treatments and surgeries for those under 18.

Despite the disappointing outcome, we are grateful to Moira for bringing this important motion and for shining a light on this critical issue. We are similarly grateful to Bev McArthur MP, David Limbrick MP and Georgie Crozier MP for their speeches in support of the motion and to all those Liberal, National, Liberal Democrat, Democratic Labor Party, and One Nation MPs who voted in favour.

“It is an undisputed fact that the medicalised gender affirmation practices which have been mandated in Victoria have been abandoned in multiple jurisdictions all around the world, and that is because of two simple reasons: The lack of high quality and long-term evidence that they actually deliver the promised benefits and The mounting international evidence that real harm is already being done to children that is long term, catastrophic and irreversible.” – Moira Deeming MP

“It is legally questionable, medically irresponsible and morally repugnant to reduce the influence of parents and medical professionals in this process and to accept the inadequate consent of children....If you think we are managing this process magnificently in this state, then you have nothing to fear from an inquiry.” – Bev McArthur MP

“Is the legislation that was put into this place a few years ago – The Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Bill – is it actually working to assist people?...I’m particularly interested in what an inquiry would do to see if this legislation is actually working. Is it doing what it is supposed to be doing?...This House does a lot of inquiries and I don’t see why this sensitive, complex issue shouldn’t be looked into either.” – Georgie Crozier MP

“I question the motives of anyone that would oppose an inquiry.” – David Limbrick MP

It was particularly encouraging to see the Liberals take a united front in backing the motion, and not allow any internal political differences get in the way of what’s in the best interests of children.

Special mention also goes to detransitioners Mel Jeffries and Lee Hazel who were sitting in the gallery during the debate, and who had called on MPs to support the motion, as they both know all too well the irreversible harm resulting from 'gender affirming care'.

Lee Hazel and Mel Jeffries at the Victorian Parliament before the debate on the motion.

After the debate, Lee penned a powerful letter to her elected representative, Labor MP Sheena Watt, who gave a speech opposing the bill.

"Yesterday, I attended Parliament to witness yourself and other members debate Mrs Deeming’s motion. I write to you today to tell you that the tone and content of your opposing speech, and your breathless and animated performance of it, with myself and another detrans woman in the gallery, was beyond insensitive. It was cruel. I was shocked to be treated with such contempt by my elected representative. In the chamber of Parliament, no less. You claim to be guided by respect, compassion, and kindness. Am I not also deserving of such things?" - Lee Hazel

We know that this is not the end, but rather the beginning of the reckoning for those who have been harmed by medicalised gender affirmation practices, and the battle to protect children and young people from the irreversible damage being done in furtherance of the unattainable idea that human beings can change sex.

We will let Moira have the final say, and leave you with her phenomenal closing statement, which also succinctly sums up the opposing ‘arguments’.

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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