Australia’s peak medical body has called for urgent improvements to gender-affirming care access and to protect the doctors who provide it.
The Australia Medical Association published its 2023 position statement last week. The statement addresses a wide range of LGBTQIA+ health areas.
The AMA calls on the federal government to “urgently enhance access” to gender-affirming treatments, including through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Medicare Benefits Schedule.
It also states that medical practitioners who provide gender-affirming care should be “protected and supported” following reports last year that medical insurer MDA National was restricting cover for practitioners caring for trans youth.
The AMA states that gender-affirming care is linked with a range of positive health outcomes for people who are trans and gender diverse and that studies indicate regret from undergoing gender-affirming surgery is rare.
The AMA statement also condemned the “systemic discrimination, abuse, and prejudice against young trans and gender diverse people seeking gender-affirming care”.
Trans youth struggling to access care
Equality Australia CEO Ghassan Kassisieh welcomed the AMA’s statement and urged leaders to take note.
He said the right for trans people to access gender-affirming care was supported by major medical bodies in Australia and internationally.
“We have some of the world’s leading clinicians and experts in transgender healthcare in Australia. They are best placed to help people make decisions about the kinds of care they want and need,” he said.
“When people are given power over their own lives and medical care, it is affirming, liberating and positively life-changing.”
Mr Kassisieh said the reality was that young trans people often struggled to access the care they need.
“The key issues impacting trans young people and their families include the lack of appropriately funded health and support services coupled with high rates of harassment and abuse,” he said.
AMA wants nationwide conversion practices ban
The AMA position statement also calls on state and territory governments to ban conversion practices.
The so-called “conversion” practices intended to change, alter or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity are harmful, the AMA declares.
Conversion practices were rooted in the “false assumption” that sexual orientations other than heterosexuality, and gender identities other than cisgender, are “mental disorders that can and must be altered,” the peak body says.
“There is strong agreement among the medical profession in Australia that conversion practices have no medical benefit or scientific basis, and that there is evidence of significant harms resulting from such practices,” the statement says.
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