Australia’s governing body for psychiatrists has moved away from endorsing a “gender-affirmative approach” to treat the growing number of young people identifying as transgender, in its first specific policy on gender dysphoria.
The position statement, titled “Recognising and addressing the mental health needs of people experiencing gender dysphoria/gender incongruence”, says care should be patient-centred and non-judgmental. However, it also acknowledges “multiple perspectives and views” about whether a gender-affirmative approach is appropriate for children and teenagers and highlights the lack of research on the long-term outcomes.
The document defines a “gender-affirmative approach” as one that accepts rather than questions a child’s statements about their gender identity, potentially easing access to medical treatment such as puberty blockers and hormones with parental permission.
This is the college’s first position statement specifically on gender dysphoria but it partly replaces a 2016 position statement on the mental health needs of LGBTQI people, which more strongly endorsed gender affirmation for young people. The previous position statement pointed to international guidelines endorsing puberty blockers for eligible adolescents and said evidence suggested good outcomes from this approach.