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Melbourne youth gender clinic in data row – THE AUSTRALIAN

By Bernard Lane


Victoria’s Andrews government has been slammed for claiming it does not routinely collect basic data about risky medical treatment of vulnerable children and teens at Australia’s biggest youth transgender clinic in Melbourne.

“We are talking about the health and well-being of children and it’s critical that Daniel ­Andrews is transparent on these issue­s,” said Coalition health spokesman Georgie Crozier.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos dismissed Ms Crozier’s questions on notice about the birth sex and hormone treatment of underage patients, who believe they are “born in the wrong body”, at the Royal Children’s Hospital gender clinic run by paediatrician Michelle Telfer.

Ms Mikakos said her department did not “routinely collect” any of this information.

Ms Crozier, a former midwife and hospital supervisor, said the government was refusing to be open about the clinic, and Victor­ians were “rightly asking why Daniel Andrews is hiding this important information”.

She asked for the data in Augus­t following reports in The Australian about the safety and ethics of medical treatment amid a worrying global spike in ­troubled teenage patients, mostly girls, sent to gender clinics.

Last year at RCH there were 269 new referrals, 1394 per cent higher than in 2012, when Dr Telfer took charge. RCH has refuse­d requests for interviews, data and comment. Yesterday The Australian sought comment from RCH and the government.

In parliament on Tuesday, Ms Crozier said it would be “incongr­uous” for the Health Department not to have data if the education bureaucracy’s $43.8m Doctors in Secondary Schools venture was referring pupils to the RCH clinic.

The clinic has trained these school GPs in “gender-affirming healthcare” or the pro-trans “affirmat­ive model”, which views children as “experts” in their trans identity. Government docu­ments say it is up to GPs to decide whether children younger than 18 are “mature minors” who can consent to treatment themselves. The Australian asked the government how many school children had been referred to the RCH gender clinic by these school GPs.

The doctors project complements the Safe Schools program, which is endorsed by the RCH clinic and tells teachers it is the child “who understands most about their gender transition”, and mature minors may be “able to make (gender change) decis­ions without parental consent”.

In parliament, Ms Crozier raised the case of Melbourne mother “Clair”, featured on Neil Mitchell’s 3AW radio program this month, who said she had been called by a school counsellor “out of the blue” to be told her 14-year-old “socially awkward” daughter was a trans boy. The counsellor had been seeing the girl for three weeks without her mother knowing and had given her information about gender clinics and trans websites.

Clair said she had been advise­d to avoid the RCH clinic, where her daughter might be put on the path to trans medical treatment, and instead took her to a psychologist who diagnosed high-functioning Asperger’s syn­drome. “Apparently Asperger’s children sometimes have gender confusion,” she said.

Critics of gender clinics say they do not properly investigate the role of pre-existing conditions in gender confusion.

Mitchell said he had been seeking interviews with Dr Telfer­’s clinic for four years “and they won’t talk to me.”



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