Matters of Urgency – Gender Dysphoria

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (16:16): I rise today to support Senator Hanson’s urgency motion calling for an inquiry into the rising number of children suffering from gender dysphoria in Australia and the increasing number of children being treated for gender dysphoria at clinics. We must examine the causes and the possible remedies for this trend to ensure that children and their families—and their families—receive appropriate support and care.

It is not an easy topic to discuss, not at all. In fact, it is difficult and it is uncomfortable. But that is the very reason why we here in this place must discuss it. Our job is to seek the truth and act for the greater good of all. When it comes to gender dysphoria, it is children who suffer most and there is just so much that we are yet to learn. In the last decade, nearly every single English-speaking country has seen a massive rise in adolescents believing that they are transgender and pursuing medical and surgical interventions to transition. Many doctors and parents have been expressing grave concerns about misdiagnosis and the harms of experimental treatments being offered as the only solutions to gender distress.

When you think about it, until very recently almost nobody was talking about things like gender dysphoria. Hardly a soul would even imagine that one’s sex at birth was merely a social construct and something simply to be pushed away. We now have countless cases of not just adults but children at ever younger ages telling us they are the wrong sex and wanting to change that sex with puberty blockers, cross-sex hormone therapy and gender reassignment therapy. Studies do show that up to 90 per cent of children who are supported—but without medical intervention—will eventually go on to accept their native gender.

It is well documented that there are significant issues that arise from puberty blockers. These include but are not limited to: sterility, lack of sexual function and bone and brain development issues. Puberty blockers are being prescribed off-label. They were not designed for gender dysphoria, and children simply cannot consent to such radical and irreversible intervention.

It is now illegal in parts of Australia for parents, doctors or therapists to stop children from transitioning. State education departments in Australia are advising schools that they can transition your child without your knowledge and without your consent, if they suspect that you, as a parent, would be unsupportive.

An honourable senator: That is not true.

Senator BABET: That is true. It is true in my home state of Victoria. There are already multiple cases in Australia where a parent has lost custody of their child for not affirming the child’s wishes to medically transition, with judges tending to rule in favour of a supportive parent rather than a cautious parent.

In light of new and emerging evidence, many countries around the world are changing their tune on the gender-affirming treatment model. Sweden, Finland and France have banned the use of puberty blockers and hormones for minors, and rightly so. The UK’s Cass review into London’s Tavistock gender clinic led to a 2020 High Court decision stating that children under 16 were not capable of informed consent about the long-term impacts of puberty blockers and other treatments.

I urge the Senate to recognise what’s happening to these vulnerable children—they’re just children, after all, and need guidance from adults—to examine the causes of their gender dysphoria and to consider the most appropriate remedies to treat these children, and to ensure that they and their families receive appropriate support and care.