In a recently released Position Statement “The Role of Psychiatrists in Working with Trans and Gender Diverse People”, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has announced that it has not simply taken an affirmative position on medical gender treatment. It now speaks of a range of approaches to be considered with caution. This is in shocking contrast to the position statements of professional organisations that have been strictly affirmative. This has been reported widely in secular and Christian regional media.
According to Australia’s Health System, gender-affirming care can be defined as:
- Social Affirmation – Changing names, pronouns, hair or clothing
- Legal Affirmation – Changing legal names or gender
- Medical Affirmation – Using hormones or surgery
This is a landmark decision for Australians and New Zealanders, especially after the State of Victoria’s blanket ban on so-called ‘Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices’ in 2021, which includes the prohibition of prayer or pastoral care for those who experience unwanted same-sex attraction or gender incongruence for persons of any age. New Zealand also introduced a ban in 2022 for under 18s, including certain restrictions on prayer and personal ministry.
The following are extracts from the RANZCP’s position statement (available here):
“There is a range of recommendations regarding the care of children and adolescents with gender incongruence/gender dysphoria. These include caution on the use of hormonal and surgical treatment, screening for potential coexisting conditions (autism spectrum disorder and ADHD), arranging appropriate service provision for these conditions, and offering psychosocial support to explore gender identity during diagnostic assessment.”
“Distress associated with gender may in some situations be related to a range of psychosocial issues or mental health conditions.”
“Childhood and adolescence are times of rapid and dynamic brain development and development of personal identity. Further, distress in childhood and adolescence is often a consequence of multiple intersecting psychosocial and psychiatric issues.”
“Gender-expansive and non-conforming behaviour and preferences can be normal at any age and should not necessarily be a cause for concern or require attention. For some people, gender identity and/or gender expression can change over time.”
IFTCC Executive Board Member and Head of the Science and Research Council, Dr Laura Haynes stated:
“This is a position update that strongly emphasises detransitioners, their felt harm, their need for therapy, and their difficulty in finding it. It in effect warns psychiatrists that detransitioners are suing their doctors, and they better be very careful to inform patients of the potential harms and failures of gender medical interventions.”
“I expected that attorneys for professional organizations would be warning them they need to include these things explicitly in their statements, since the American Academy of Paediatricians is being sued, but this is the first statement I have seen that does it other than the recent update (version 8) of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.”
“On the unfortunate side, the update drops the excellent recommendation of their previous statement that called for evaluations and treatment to be comprehensive in looking at the context in which the gender dysphoria emerged. This is inexplicable when they just acknowledged that detransitioners are suing because they have other underlying causes for their gender dysphoria that therapists left unaddressed. Now the RANZCP recommends their concerns be treated, after the harms to their bodies are done.”
Despite this, it is a step towards the protection of our young people, and an encouragement that the tide is turning.