There is no “national inquiry” into transgender treatments

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) says it is not conducting an inquiry into the treatment of transgender youth in Australia.

The organisation has responded to media organisations who had declared the medical body was conducting an inquiry under orders from Health Minister Greg Hunt saying; “the RACP is primarily an educational institution and does not conduct inquiries.”

The Australian newspaper has spent the last several weeks publishing a series of reports criticising the treatment of transgender children and adolescents. The reports have been widely criticised, with the ABC’s Media Watch labeling them as “bad journalism” and “one-sided”.

On Saturday, in a front page story, The Australian declared Health Minister Greg Hunt was “backing” an inquiry into the treatment of transgender youth, and presenters on Sky News described it as “a national inquiry” that had been “ordered by the Minister”.

However when OUTinPerth contacted the Royal Australian College of Physicians they said they would be asking experts within the organisation to respond to the correspondence they had recently received from Tasmanian sociologist Dr Geoff Holloway. No mention was made of an “inquiry”.

Representatives for the Health Minister would only describe the action undertaken as a “referral” and would not be drawn on whether the minister personally shared the concerns that were being raised.

Now the RACP has issued a second statement to clarify what is occuring. The professional body said they had received calls from many members of the organisation, and members of the public, who wanted an explanation.

The organisation restated that they strongly support supportive and welcoming care. “The RACP strongly supports supportive and welcoming care for children, adolescents and adults experiencing gender dysphoria.” the organisation said, repeating their statement from earlier in the week.

“Minister Hunt has requested that the RACP, as the relevant expert clinical body, consider and advise on the clinical best practice for the treatment of gender dysphoria in children and adolescents. The RACP will consult with our relevant committees and expert groups in providing this advice. Importantly, the RACP is primarily an educational institution and does not conduct inquiries.” the RACP in said in a new statement.

The organisation also released the letter they received from the Health Minister.

In the letter Minister Hunt says the RACP is the “relevant expert clinical body” to advise on the “clinical best practice for the treatment of gender dysphoria in children and adolescents.”

“It is important that we have a nationally consistent standard of care that is evidence based and with appropriate safeguards to protect the interests of the patient.” Minister Hunt said in his letter.

The Australian defends their coverage of transgender issues

The Australian has published an editorial on Wednesday that defends their coverage of the issue saying their intention is to make sure legitimate concerns are raised and discussed dispassionately.

The newspaper argues that the minority viewpoint of researchers who have concerns about the current treatment methods need to be heard and considered.

“Nobody quoted in our newspaper on these issues has said a hateful word. To the contrary they, they say dysphoric children are suffering and need a compassionate response. It may not always be in their best interests for clinicians to readily embrace their transgender statement.” the newspaper said.

The newspaper said there were “people of goodwill” on both sides of the debate who simply want the best outcome for children.

The editorial defends the newspapers coverage to date, saying the concern is that a small group of specialists who are treating transgender children may arguably be “pushing the frontier further than the evidence or prudence warrants.”

The newspaper said it appreciated that the reports are a sensitive area for transgender children and parents and said the reports they have published to date have been “focussed on the medical evidence, credibility of claims for therapeutic benefit, and careful balance between those benefits and known risks.”

The author of the editorial said The Australian recognised that concerns about the treatment of transgender youth were only held by a minority of clinicians, but there was an increasing number of medical professionals raising the issue, while it was also of concern for Christians, women’s groups, skeptical parents and the small number of people who have de-transitioned.

The Australian says the treatment of transgender children is being discussed in publications around the world, and say most Australians would be unaware of the debate because other media outlets in Australia are “pretending the issue has no relevance”.

The editorial also claims there reports are what lead to Health Minister Greg Hunt contacting the Royal Australian College of Physicians to conduct a “national inquiry”, which The Australian says will be watched by people around the world.

Graeme Watson , Top photo by Denin Lawley on Unsplash

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