Transgender Australians want Prime Minister Scott Morrison to meet with them and “educate himself” after a new attack on trans healthcare at a trainwreck press conference.
On Tuesday morning, Prime Minster Scott Morrison again defended Sydney Liberal candidate Katherine Deves. Deves caused outrage with her derogatory commentary on trans people, and backtracked on an earlier apology.
Addressing her views, Morrison said he’s “not a doctor” but claimed “gender reversal surgery for young adolescents” was a “concerning” and “troubling issue” for him and “many other Australians”.
Morrison repeatedly and falsely claimed that children are having gender confirmation surgery – wrongly conflating the procedures with other treatments for gender dysphoria – before claiming he was correct because “the process can begin in adolescence” but also expressing concern about trans Australians undergoing procedures “at any stage”.
Scott Morrison criticised for misinformation
Trans advocates and health experts slammed Scott Morrison’s latest uninformed contribution as “alarming and disappointing” misinformation.
They want Morrison to meet with them and “educate himself” on the challenges transgender Australians face.
“It’s deeply concerning to see the Prime Minister spreading these alarmist views,” Transcend Australia executive officer Jeremy Wiggins said.
“The reality is that young transgender people struggle to access the care that they need, when they need it.
“These are personal decisions about healthcare that should be left to young people and the doctors and parents that support them. Not debated by politicians in the middle of an election campaign.
“The real key issues impacting trans young people and their families are the lack of appropriately-funded health and support services, and the high rates of harassment and abuse.”
Wiggins said these challenges are driving up the “poor mental health rates for our community, resulting in higher rates of self-harm and suicidality.”
“If the Morrison Government is serious about reducing suicide, then these debates need to be held sensitively with key experts including transgender people and their families,” he said.
“We invite the Prime Minister to meet with us, to better understand the challenges we face.”
Affirming care is ‘profoundly life-changing and life-saving’
Dr Fiona Bisshop is president of peak body AusPATH, the Australian Professional Association for Trans Health.
She said the Prime Minister had failed to speak up for transgender people when pressed on Katherine Deves’ views.
“I see how profoundly life-changing and life-saving gender-affirming care can be for those young people that need it,” Dr Bisshop said.
“Decisions about medical care should be made between the patient and their treating team, rather than the subject of political debate.
“Genital surgery is only performed on adults. In rare cases, older trans teenage boys undergo surgery on their upper bodies.
“These treatments help young people to be able to leave the house, go to school and live their lives rather than stay at home, crippled by anxiety and dysphoria.
“The difficulties experienced by trans young people are made all the worse by politicians with no expertise attacking their care. This needs to stop.”
‘Cruel and uninformed debates’ must end
Equality Australia CEO Anna Brown said Scott Morrison and other leaders should “remove, not increase” barriers to gender-affirming care.
“It’s incredibly disappointing to see our Prime Minister make these sorts of comments, about a very vulnerable group of Australians he clearly knows little about,” she said.
“Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect when accessing the care they need.”
Brown said Australia has some of the world’s leading clinicians and experts in transgender healthcare.
“The Family Court has upheld the gender-affirming model of care adopted in Australia’s children’s hospitals,” she said.
“Political parties and candidates should focus on how they can remove barriers to accessing life-saving healthcare for trans people.
“[This would] turn around the appalling mental health outcomes for these communities, rather than contributing to them through these cruel and uninformed debates.”
Earlier, a large coalition of women’s and gender equity groups have called out politicians for “divisive” rhetoric around trans women in sport.
LGBTIQ+ health experts also warned anti-trans commentary was causing spikes in calls to LGBTIQ support lines.
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