Health Minister Greg Hunt reportedly backs inquiry into trans treatment

The Australian newspaper has declared the Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP) will conduct an inquiry into the treatment of transgender people, and the move has the backing of federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.

“A national inquiry into the safety and ethics of medical treatment for the rising number of trans­gender-identifying children and adolescents will go ahead with the backing of Health Minister Greg Hunt.” the newspaper claimed in a front page story on Saturday.

The call for a national inquiry comes after Tasmanian health sociologist Geoff Holloway submitted a paper to the medical body, and the Health Minister, arguing that there was insufficient research to support the current methodology that is used to treat transgender children and adolescents.

OUTinPerth asked the RACP for more information; they confirmed that they had received the correspondence from Holloway and had asked the relevant experts within the organisation to respond to the letter.

“The RACP strongly supports supportive and welcoming care for children, adolescents and adults experiencing gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder. We note in this context the Australian position statement, Australian standards of care and treatment guidelines for transgender and gender diverse children and adolescents published in the Medical Journal of Australia in 2018, and discussed in the Lancet, as well as the Australian Standards of Care and Treatment Guidelines for Trans and Gender Diverse Children and Adults.

“The RACP has received correspondence in relation to treatment of gender dysphoria in children and adolescents, and we are seeking advice from our relevant expert groups to inform our response.

“The RACP urges careful and respectful discussion of these issues in consideration of the potential impacts of public discussion on the health and wellbeing of highly vulnerable people.” a spokesperson for the organisation said.

The submission from Holloway, which is backed by Tasmanian feminist group Women Speak Tasmania, psychologist Dr Dianna Kenny and Professor John Whitehall from Western Sydney University, argues that there is significant concern amongst medical professionals about patients under 18 being prescribed puberty blockers and hormones.

The group advocates for a different approach to gender dysphoria suggesting that patients should be encouraged to focus on their birth gender, arguing that most people experience the condition will eventually grow out of it. They claim the rise in the number of children experiencing gender dysphoria is because the condition is a “psycho-socio-cultural dis-ease”.

Calls for a national inquiry have been backed by Jennifer Oriel, a columnist at the The Australian. The submission sent to the Health Minister was also endorsed by Senior Australian of the Year Dr Suzanne Packer, who has subsequently issued an apology for the hurt and distress the submission was causing to transgender young people and their families.

The Australian Professional Association for Trans Health (AusPATH) has raised concern over recent reporting on transgender health by News Corp. The leading health organisation for the treatment of people who are transgender labeled stories appearing in The Australian newspaper as being “biased, emotive and not based on fact.”

The criticism of the newspaper follows the launch of a dedicated page at on the newspaper’s website for stories about gender. They have been criticised for only publishing stories from an anti-trans perspective.

Dr Fiona Bisshop, a specialist in transgender healthcare, vice-president of the Sexual Health Society of Queensland and board member at AusPATH, described the coverage factually incorrect and irresponsible. Speaking to The Saturday Paper Dr Bisshop said there was significant research that showed that affirming and supporting care was the best practice when it came to reducing the occurrence of poor mental health and suicidality among transgender youth.

“The arguments regarding treatment of children are designed to be highly emotive and fear mongering and are not based on factual information,” Dr Bisshop said.

The Australian‘s managing editor, Helen Trinca, responded to the  criticism, saying the paper’s reporting on this issue is objective, factual and accurate.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has been contacted for comment. 

Graeme Watson

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