The first national figures, obtained under freedom of information legislation from major hospitals in NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, show 2415 children were referred for gender treatment between 2014 and last year, with a 41 per cent increase in Victoria. Girls as young as nine are believed to be put on “puberty blocker” drugs, and boys from about 11.
A poorly understood surge in children and teens identifying as transgender — especially girls whose body perception can be more fraught — has arrived in the past five to 10 years.
“Who gave ethics approval for this treatment (at children’s hospitals) when it lacks any scientific basis and therefore is an experiment?” Professor Whitehall said. “We should give the psychiatry and psychology a full run before we start castrating children.”
Professor Whitehall said there was no rigorous long-term evidence that puberty blockers were safe and reversible for younger children, and studies in adults and sheep suggested damage to the growing human brain could not be ruled out.