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Libby Mettam’s stance against transgender healthcare challenged

National LGBTI+ lobby group, Just.Equal Australia, has criticised the WA Liberal Party for “failing to understand” the difference between transgender healthcare in the UK and Australia.

On Monday, WA Liberal Leader, Libby Mettam, said if her party was elected to government, it would ban puberty blockers for young people going through gender transition.

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Mettam also called for a local review of transgender medical processes in the wake of the Cass Review into youth-focused gender care in Britain. 

WA spokesperson for Just.Equal, Brian Greig, said the Cass Review was not relevant to Australia because we already use the holistic, multi-disciplinary approach the Review recommends.

“Supporters of the Cass Review say it proves that puberty blockers should not be given to young people,” Greig said.

“However, the Cass Review has been roundly criticised for failing to acknowledge the many studies that demonstrate the improved mental health for many young people with gender dysphoria.

“Dr Cass has responded to this criticism by explaining she does not support a total ban on puberty blockers and hormones, but prefers an individualised approach.”

Local transgender advocate, Andrea Thompson, said that’s already what happens in WA.

“As Australian paediatricians are quick to point out, this is the approach currently taken in Australia, compared to the different approach taken in Britain,” she said.

“Australian gender clinics use a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach involving mental health experts.

“Here, there are clear guidelines to the prescription of puberty blockers, including psychological assessments and permission from both parents.

“Additionally, West Australian research has shown much lower levels of ‘de-transitioning’ than is often quoted by opponents of gender care,” Thompson said. 

“Some 5.3 percent of young people re-identified with their birth-registered sex before or during their gender assessment, but of the group who initiated medical treatment only 1 per cent de-transitioned.”

Thompson said a political inquiry into healthcare could trigger more stigma and discrimination for an already vulnerable community.

“I fear that a political inquiry like the one suggested by the Liberal Party will just become a platform for more anti-trans vitriol and hate,” she continued.

“Young trans people and their families need support and understanding, they don’t want to become targets in another culture war.”

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