WA Liberals will ban harmful gender treatments for children

Apr 22, 2024 | Libby Mettam MLA, State News

A Western Australian Liberal Government will ban the use of puberty blockers, cross-sex hormone treatments and surgical intervention for children under the age of 16 for the purpose of gender transition.

Liberal Leader Libby Mettam made the announcement today, saying a WA Liberal Government would also initiate a comprehensive review of these treatments and their suitability for use in the treatment of gender incongruent children.

The announcement follows the release last week of the UK’s Cass Review Final Report, a four-year independent investigation into gender interventions for minors.

The Cass Review recommended the controversial affirmation model, which is a pathway of social transition, puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and gender surgeries for children with gender dysphoria, be discontinued.

“Many countries around the world have already implemented such bans on the use of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones on children in the face of growing evidence they cause long-term irreversible harm,” Ms Mettam said.

“It is important we undertake our own research into the outcomes being achieved here in our own state.
“Once the research is completed we will review the ban to determine if it should be maintained, modified or potentially extended to under 18 years of age.

“We must ensure our treatment of children and young people with gender dysphoria is safe in the long term as well as the short term.”

Ms Mettam said the policy had absolutely nothing to do with ideology but was a response to the body of evidence that had prompted new restrictions on medical interventions for gender incongruent children in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Italy, the UK and the US.

Studies in both the UK1 and Finland2 found that puberty blockers caused potentially life-changing, long-term harms and that there was no substantiated evidence of increased rates of youth suicide among adolescents with gender dysphoria who did not receive the treatments.

“The overriding concern here is for the safety of children, history cannot record that we knew about the potential for long-term harms from these treatments and did nothing to prevent them,” Ms Mettam said.

“The need for urgent action is compounded by the rapidly growing number of children being diagnosed and treated for gender dysphoria in WA.

“Our review will also inquire into why we are seeing this rise in diagnosis.

“There are currently more than 100 children and adolescents being treated at Perth Children’s Hospital with either puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones, with the youngest aged 11.

“When experts are telling us the potential permanent side effects of these treatments can include infertility, sexual disfunction, obesity, heart and liver disease, blood clots and atrophy of the genitals we need to investigate.

“In the meantime, we should be more cautious and careful when it comes to using these treatments on our children, that’s why a ban first to allow for a comprehensive review is the right approach.”

Ms Mettam said children and adolescents with gender dysphoria were a highly vulnerable cohort of young people, many of whom were dealing with other debilitating conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
“Appropriate, compassionate, comprehensive and accessible psychotherapeutic support must be our first priority for them,” she said.

“The only way to deliver that essential support is through a properly funded and effectively managed mental health system, something the Labor Government and Minister Sanderson have failed to deliver.”


Suicide Mortality Among Gender-Dysphoric Adolescents and Young Adults in Finland