Australian Hospital Offering Gender Affirming Care to Toddlers as Young as Three

Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital is offering ‘gender affirming care’ for children as young as three in a move described by one Liberal Senator as ‘incredibly concerning’. Psychiatrists and specialist gender identity clinicians will work alongside children aged three to 17 as long as they have a referral from a GP. Treatments for young children who are yet to reach puberty ‘focus on gender affirmation’ and ‘talking to the child and their family’, as well as ensuring adequate support is in place both at school and at home. As children age and reach puberty, the Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Service has a broader range of treatments available. The first step, known as ‘stage 1’, is to introduce puberty blockers – a reversible step available to children in the early stages of puberty. Later, around the age of 16, the clinic is able to move onto ‘stage 2’, which involves using ‘gender-affirming hormones (estrogen or testosterone) to change the body to be more consistent with the teenager’s affirmed gender’.

Liberal Senator Claire Chandler said she was concerned by the idea that a child’s gender is being assessed based partially on what toys they play with or clothes they want to wear. ‘It’s very worrying to see a health provider promoting the ideology that two and three year-olds’ preferences in clothing, toys or games represents a “gender identity”,’ she said. ‘Across the world many doctors, psychiatrists, detransitioners [people who begin gender transition but later seek to reverse the changes] and expert reviews, are sounding the alarm about the youth gender medicine industry. ‘It’s incredibly concerning that in Australia these alarms are still being ignored and children are being put on pathways towards irreversible and potentially dangerous drugs and surgeries.’ The hospital’s gender dysphoria spreadsheet states that children begin ‘expressing their gender identity at two to three years of age’. They do this via their preferences for clothing, toys and interests, but the hospital notes ‘it’s normal for children to experiment with gender roles’ and many ‘will not desire any form of transition’.

‘For others, living in their birth-assigned gender role is extremely distressing. In these cases, it is important for families to discuss with their child or teenager what they need to do to protect their physical and mental well-being and consider seeking professional assistance. ‘For many transgender children and teenagers, the onset of puberty, with the development of secondary sex characteristics (e.g. breasts, changing voice) that don’t match their gender identity is a particularly distressing time.’ Gender affirming care is the act of acknowledging and treating a patient within their perceived gender without question. In young people, this primarily revolves around assuring both school and home are safe, nurturing spaces and that both parents and children are informed about how best to approach the situation. Recently, psychiatrist Dr Andrew Amos said Australia’s rapidly expanding gender affirming medical care is ‘unconscionable’. ‘The reality is that we simply don’t know how many kids change their minds.

‘This is particularly damaging because medical/surgical transition require lifelong care, with potentially catastrophic ¬≠effects of detransitioning later in life.’ The hospital said it can be ‘difficult’ for parents to know when it is time to seek professional help, but that the usual warning sign is when a child begins to display ‘ongoing distress about their gender’. Children under the age of 16 require a parent to attend appointments with them. Rachael Wong, of Women’s Forum Australia, warned her followers that ‘gender ideology is being pushed on Australian children from every angle… from our education and healthcare systems to entertainment and “drag queen story time” in libraries.’

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports

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