Last month in Cairns the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) held a Queensland Branch Conference at which there was a stark admission by a prominent Queensland psychiatrist to the lack of evidence for the controversial gender transitioning of children that is happening under the gender affirmation model of psychiatric care for children with gender dysphoria.
After decades of dealing with the psychiatrists of the Queensland public hospital system, I’ll let you in on a secret: psychiatrists don’t always tell the truth to patients. The truth is sometimes distressing, and psychiatrists are in the game of reducing distress.
Prominent paediatric gender psychiatrist Dr Stephen Stathis attended the recent North Queensland conference where he addressed his gender-critical colleagues with some truth-telling. Dr Stathis is the Medical Director of Child and Youth Mental Health Services at Children’s Health Queensland and was recently on Four Corners promoting the affirmation model of treatment for gender dysphoric children. Dr Stathis established the Queensland Children’s Gender Service in 2017.
Under Dr Stathis, Queensland has embraced the medicalisation of gender non-conformity at higher levels than most other Australian states, with 922 patients being treated by Queensland paediatric gender clinics in 2022.
The problem is that there is no evidence gender affirmation treatment in minors has better outcomes on the mental health of the patient long term than if the person was allowed to mature sexually, with the ongoing assistance of psychological and social support.
Dr Stathis skimmed briefly over the major issues of sterility and lack of sexual function in patients who have experienced puberty suppression and cross-sex hormones, sometimes with light jokes and what he called ‘fun examples’.
What Dr Stathis didn’t say on Four Corners, but did say to his colleagues, was that the use of puberty suppressants and cross-sex hormones in minors will likely have no impact on the distress of the patient in the long term in any way.
Because 95 per cent of the children placed on puberty blockers will have their puberty permanently stopped, one has to ask how parents are given the right to consent to the de-sexing of their children without any evidential rationale for the benefit of a treatment.
While Dr Stathis claimed to be slaying elephants, in truth, the most obvious elephant in the room was the small-framed outspoken senior psychiatrist Dr Jillian Spencer, who has been was removed from clinical duties at Children’s Health Queensland for refusing to comply with dictates of the affirmation model of care, including compelled pronoun use.
Most glaringly absent from Stathis’ analysis at the conference and elsewhere is the lack of consideration for homophobia, misogyny, pornography, sexual abuse, and autism in the rise of trans identification in our young and in the diagnosis of gender dysphoria itself.
There is strong established research to indicate that gender nonconformity in children is a pre-indicator for homosexuality, not all gender non-conforming children will go on to be homosexual, but the link is strong and long established in research and anecdotally in society. The targeting of gender non-conforming children with medical intervention including sterilisation and surgery is sharply criticised by emerging gender-critical gay rights groups.
In trying to bring some conclusions to his messy and contradictory talk, Dr Stephen Stathis made a startling plea to his gender-critical colleagues: ‘Let’s not have an argument about the fact that the treatment of gender dysphoria is experimental and based on weak and very weak data unless you want to acknowledge that everything we do in child and adolescent psychiatry, and probably in adult psychiatry is experimental.’