AusPath renews its support for affirming transgender healthcare

AusPath, The Australian Professional Association for Trans Health, has restated its support for the affirmation model of care for transgender and non-binary people.

The medical group is Australia’s peak body for professionals involved in the health, rights and well-being of trans, gender diverse and non-binary people. In a newly released statement the organisation has sought to clarify information about how transgender treatment is approached.

The statement highlights that being trans is not a new experience of gender, and can be traced throughout history, and many people who experience gender incongruence have done so since a young age.

Highlighting that the basis for the development of gender is not well known, the groups argues that there is more evidence that a range of biological factors are more likely than environmental origins.

“Affirmative support for trans people, especially from their parents, friends and additionally for young people their school environments, is vital for maintaining good mental health (e.g. Travers et al, 2012; Simons et al, 2013; Hill et al, 2020; Ullman, 2021).

“Social support from family, friends and school environments is associated with reduced suicide risk (e.g. Edwards et al. 2019; Bauer et al., 2015; Hill et al, 2020). Family and school rejection are associated with increased risk of suicidal ideation (e.g. Chen et al. 2019 ) and suicide attempts (e.g. Klein & Golub, 2016; Hill et al, 2020).

“A supportive environment allows for gender affirmation; social and, where sought, medical and legal affirmation.” the organisation said.

The statement notes that transgender people face many challenges including media hostility, legal hurdles and a lack of knowledge about transgender health care among general practitioners.

Concern is raised about the push for transgender people to be treated with a ‘wait and see’ or solely psychotherapeutic approach, saying these evidence these techniques are effective is sparse and anecdotal. The group also highlights that the approach verges on reparative therapy.

“AusPATH is concerned that these approaches may involve pressure on the person to conform to the gender presumed for them at birth –  and that they therefore verge on “reparative therapy” (also called “conversion therapy”) similar to that used to ‘treat’ non-heterosexual sexualities.”

The statement comes in the wake of Australian politicians attempting to pass a bill stating that a ‘wait and see’ approach to transgender health care should be instigated as standard practice.

In federal parliament One Nation moved an unsuccessful motion on the issue. The motion was voted down when six Liberal MPs crossed the floor and voted with Labor and the Greens.

Andrew Bragg, one of the Liberal MPs who voted against the motion said it was not parliament’s place to be dictating how doctors treated their patients.

“It’s ridiculous, these motions are rubbish, they are damaging and hurtful to people and I think we want to protect and look after minorities, we don’t want to bash up on minorities – that’s not the way. If people have particular health issues they should raise them at the state level where these things are governed and run, it’s not the senate’s role to be wading into these issues and they are very sensitive issues.

“There’s a lot of pressure on that particular community, and its important that that community knows it’s supported.” Senator Andrew Bragg told Sky News.

“It’s not for politicians and the senate to be removing options from medical practitioners. I think it’s inappropriate.” he told host Laura Jayes.

OIP Staff

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