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Women’s Rights Party calls for an enquiry into the medicalisation of children with gender dysphoria

Children under 18 should not be given puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or gender reassignment surgery in order to change the appearance of their biological sex, the Women’s Rights Party says.

Women’s Rights Party co-leader Jill Ovens says the Party is calling on the incoming Government to enact legislation that would prevent the harm being done to children by the unregulated and widely promoted transgender practices occurring right now.

“A first step could be a full enquiry into the medicalisation of children with gender dysphoria,” she says.

Ms Ovens says it is a fact that some people behave in ways that do not conform to the gender expectations established in society, rejecting some or all stereotypical gender role behaviours is gender non-conformity, and this is to be respected.

Where the Women’s Rights Party draws the line is with medical interventions such as puberty blockers, which are prescribed for children experiencing what is termed ‘gender distress’ or ‘dysphoria’.

Otago University researcher Charlotte Paul outlined in the December issue of North and South how once children start down a path of puberty blocker medication, they invariably progress to lifetime use of cross-sex hormones.

A key finding in follow-up studies of childhood-onset gender dysphoria found that in the majority of cases, gender distress resolved naturally without intervention.

In her article titled “A Terrible Trap”, Dr Paul wrote that while many countries were reviewing and restricting the use of puberty blockers and hormones, New Zealand is becoming more of an outlier in our increasing use of these medications.

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“In 2022, 416 young people aged 12-17 were taking puberty blocking hormones, compared with 48 in 2011, the first year of use for gender dysphoria.” This is 11 times the use in England.

Puberty blockers stop normal childhood physical development (including bone development, and in the case of boys, genital development resulting in sexual dysfunction), while cross-sex hormones make irreversible physical changes, including infertility.

Ms Ovens says the principle of “informed consent” has serious limitations in relation to children as, for example, it is not possible for children to comprehend the full long-term negative effects of reduced sexual function and infertility.

“But it does not end there. Those on cross sex hormones may progress to surgical interventions. For young women this can mean a double mastectomy, euphemistically called ‘top surgery’. ‘Bottom surgery’ is also available for both women, and men, and can cause major, life-long health problems, infertility, and lack of sexual pleasure,” Ms Ovens says.

“As the number of detransitioners grows we are starting to hear more about their experiences and difficulties managing the ‘fall out’ from their surgeries.”

Dr Paul warns against laws to regulate medical practice; instead calling on our health agencies, the Health and Disabilities Commission, the Medical Council and the Ministry of Health, to show leadership and to take action.

Ms Ovens says the Women’s Rights Party also sees a role for politicians to legislate a ban on prescribing of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones for children under 18 who present with gender dysphoria. The Party also calls for restriction of gender reassignment surgery until over the age of 18.

“Psychological support, not hormones, are increasingly recognised internationally as the appropriate treatment for adolescents who suffer gender distress who may also have mental health conditions, or autism. Others may be lesbian or gay,” Ms Ovens says.

The Women’s Rights Party says lawmakers and medical professionals should be preventing the harm that is occurring in the name of transgender identity.

“Gender transitioning, by affirming a young person’s discomfort with his or her body, and by offering medical solutions to ‘fix’ the problems, could be considered a conversion practice, especially if it involves converting young lesbians or gays,” Ms Ovens says.

The Women’s Rights Party says it is not hard to foresee in future a Royal Commission that seeks to lay blame and provide compensation for the harm currently being done to children and young people by clinicians.

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