A new warning is in place for health care practitioners who may be tempted to prescribe treatments for gender dysphoric youth.
GPs have been warned they may face disciplinary action or law suits if they give cross-sex hormone drugs to transgender-identifying minors.
GPs are being misled about the law, which demands a formal diagnosis and a multidisciplinary treatment team with specialists before 16 and 17-year-olds can be given these hormone drugs carrying a risk of infertility, according to University of Queensland legal academic Patrick Parkinson and senior psychiatrist Philip Morris.
“It is important that the medical profession understands these constraints because incorrect advice on the legal requirements has been circulating within the profession,” they write in the Medical Journal of Australia’s Insight magazine.
“In no circumstances should a medical practitioner initiate ‘gender-affirming’ treatment for adolescents under 18 years of age without a proper diagnosis and multidisciplinary assessment of gender dysphoria (justifying hormonal treatment).”
GPs who ignore this warning face a risk of disciplinary action by health regulators or litigation by patients who come to regret treatment, Professor Parkinson says.
While extremists want children to be able to come under an informed consent arrangement and avoid “unnecessary gatekeeping”, some organisations are imploring doctors to proceed with caution.
The National Association of Practising Psychiatrists, with Dr Morris as president, has issued a statement alerting members that gender dysphoria in minors is “a contested area of medical practice” and urging psychological techniques as “first-line treatments,” given the lack of good quality evidence to support hormonal interventions.
Binary spokeswoman, Kirralie Smith, said doctors must heed the warnings.
“This is a highly contested area that lacks research and long-term studies,” she said.
“Instead of jumping into invasive, potentially harmful and often irreversible treatments doctors must first explore other avenues.
“Children deserve support and quality healthcare. They must not be exposed to experimental, untested or unstudied treatments that can cause irreversible harm.
“Well done to these lawyers and healthcare practitioners who are calling out the harmful agendas of extremists in this field.”