Transgender teenager Evie MacDonald has called out Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his “disrespectful” tweet about trans youth and “gender whisperers”.
Morrison retweeted a news story by the Daily Telegraph characterising teachers as “gender whisperers” taught to “spot potential transgender students in the classroom.”
“Experts claim the move has contributed to a 236 per cent surge in the number of kids wanting to change sex in the past three years,” the story raged.
He tweeted in response, “We do not need ‘gender whisperers’ in our schools. Let kids be kids.”
However appearing on The Project on Thursday night, Evie Macdonald addressed Scott Morrison in a video message.
“There are thousands of kids in Australia that are gender diverse,” she said.
“We don’t deserve to be disrespected like that through tweets by our Prime Minister. I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of attitudes like this.”
Evie Macdondald said she’d attended a Christian school where she had to pretend to be a boy and “spent weeks in harmful ‘conversion’ therapy.”
“We get one childhood, and mine was stolen from me by attitudes like this,” she said.
Scott Morrison responds to Evie Macdonald
Scott Morrison defended his tweet by saying teachers shouldn’t supplant the role of parents when it comes to young people.
“The point I was making was simply this — I want kids to be allowed to be kids, and I want parents to be respected as parents of those children,” he said.
“I don’t think teachers get to take the place of parents and the choices families make. They’re the choices that families should make together.
“There is a place for clinical advice, there is a place for clinical counselling. But at the end of the day in our schools I don’t want to see children taking on the role of parents.”
He said his tweet was “referring to a practice that has been put in schools where others are coming into that conversation and getting between parents and their children.”
Experts dispute the Daily Telegraph ‘gender whisperers’ story
But the gender specialists who were quoted by the Daily Telegraph have disputed the newspaper’s story.
Dr Elizabeth Riley, who was quoted, said she had never trained teachers on “how to spot” a trans student. Dr Riley had only worked with New South Wales schools after the students had come out as transgender.
“It’s about supporting the children that have come forward as gender variant and having their needs met,” she told Sky News.
We speak to PM @ScottMorrisonMP about his views on the au pair case, whether bullying occurred during the leadership spill and a young trans kid shares her story with the PM. #auspol #TheProjectTV pic.twitter.com/caN3VQiN8z
— The Project (@theprojecttv) September 6, 2018
The New South Wales-based Gender Centre, who were also quoted, said they provide training in schools but only after schools had contacted them for advice on supporting existing trans students.
“The training that the Gender Centre then offers to staff, is on how to accommodate the needs of existing transgender or gender diverse students within their specific schools,” Vice President Kimmi Everson said.
“The Gender Centre does not work with any school without the involvement of parents. The Gender Centre does not train school staff to identify transgender children.”
I am disturbed by the complete lack of compassion @ScottMorrisonMP showed for Evie’s lived experience of being a transgender child at school or to go through conversion therapy. https://t.co/WV4ui0u5kp
— Prof Kerryn Phelps AM (@drkerrynphelps) September 6, 2018
Hey @ScottMorrisonMP That trans kid on #TheProjectTV was given forced conversion therapy at a Christian School in secret by the Chaplain AGAINST her parents wishes.
There are no teachers trying to convert kids. THATS the fake news
— Jo Hirst (@thegenderfairy1) September 6, 2018
Scott Morrison should meet with transgender community
Spokesperson for LGBTIQ advocacy group just.equal Rodney Croome called on Morrison to meet with members of the transgender community and said mental health organisation beyondblue has recommended the kind of teacher awareness Mr Morrison was criticising.
“We have asked Mr Morrison to meet and talk with transgender and gender diverse Australians so he can better understand the terrible impact of prejudice and ignorance,” he said.
“Most transgender and gender diverse young people experience abuse because of who they are, leading in turn to higher levels of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.”
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
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