National newspaper The Australian has caused outrage after seemingly comparing transgender people to the coronavirus epidemic.
The article, published on Monday, began, “With the coronavirus dominating the news, Queensland’s health authorities have been urged to confront an under-reported global contagion involving troubled teenage girls declaring they are ‘born in the wrong body’.”
It quotes University of Queensland law dean Patrick Parkinson who told them “authorities [are] worried and busy with the coronavirus but the explosion in transgender teenagers, chiefly girls, was ‘another epidemic’ — one that had ‘so far escaped public attention’.”
Parkinson also made similar claims at a recent Australian Christian Lobby forum at the Queensland parliament.
For months, The Australian has been publishing claims of a transgender “social contagion”. However last September, the Australian Psychological Society rejected the claims as “alarmist and scientifically incorrect”.
The APS said the claims “belittle young people” and falsely imply gender identity “can be ‘corrected’ through psychological, medical or spiritual ‘conversion therapies’.”
“There is no evidence to suggest that such approaches work in terms of changing a person’s gender,” he said.
“What such debunked ‘therapies’ do produce, however, are high levels of shame, disrespect and distress.”
— Joshua Badge (@joshuabadge) February 10, 2020
If nothing else, simultaneously fear mongering about coronavirus and trans folk in one sentence is peak ‘The Australian’ efficiency
— Margot Beavon-Collin (@comrade_rosa) February 10, 2020
Last year, a United Nations expert slammed Australian media outlets for “othering, demonising and scaremongering” transgender people and their doctors.
“Australian trans youth are not being influenced by social media as part of a social fad,” he said.
“Classifying trans-inclusive healthcare as ‘experimental’, ‘gender engineering’, or as part of a broader political agenda is reductive and offensive.”
The Australian’s ‘Gender’ section demonises transgender people
The Australian newspaper has come under fire for launching a dedicated “Gender” section on its website featuring overwhelming negatively transgender coverage.
Australia’s peak trans healthcare body, AusPATH, last year called out the newspaper’s “biased” reporting.
“The reporting ignores available scientific evidence which strongly endorses supporting transgender children through social and medical transition to improve their mental health outcomes,” they said.
Many of the newspaper’s stories quote health professionals with no experience treating gender dysphoria. Other articles campaign against transgender youth accessing puberty blocker medication.
Transgender children typically first undergo a “social transition” involving a different name, clothes and hairstyle.
Older children may take puberty blockers under a doctor’s guidance. These reversibly delay puberty and its irreversible effects to eases a trans teenager’s distress. The drugs also allow them time to make decisions about their next steps.
Last month, a major US study found that puberty blockers are literally a life-saving option for some transgender young people.
The study, which involved 20,600 people, found transgender teenagers who take puberty blockers see declines in mental health problems and suicidal thoughts later in life.
It found that only 16.9% of those surveyed had sought puberty blockers as a part of their gender-related care. However, of those, only 2.5% received them.
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