This week [from 13th to 19th November] has been Transgender Awareness Week.
Gender transition is not just a change in the way people talk about themselves, or the way they dress, or the way they live their lives. These are things that should be respected, Women’s Rights Party co-leader Jill Ovens says.
Where the Women’s Rights Party draws the line is with medical intervention, including use of puberty blockers for children presenting with “gender dysphoria”, a term that describes a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity. Otago University researcher Charlotte Paul outlined in the December issue of North and South, how once children start down the path with puberty blockers, they invariably progress to lifetime use of cross-sex hormones with similar concerns about consent, appropriateness and safety.
In an article titled “A Terrible Trap”, Dr Paul wrote that while many countries were restricting use of puberty blockers and hormones, New Zealand is becoming more of an outlier in our increasing use of puberty blocking hormones.
“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, she wrote.
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. But it doesn’t end there. Next is the surgery; in female-born young women, this can mean a double mastectomy, euphemistically called “top surgery”. “Bottom surgery” is available for both female-born women, as well as males and can cause major, life-long health problems, sterility and lack of sexual pleasure, as we are starting to hear from “detransitioners”.
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 may have mental health conditions, or autism, or who may be lesbian or gay,” Ms Ovens says. However, in New Zealand, the Conversion Practices Prohibition Act 2022 requires children with gender dysphoria to be “affirmed”. “Trying to use other means to deal with this condition like counselling, or forbidding your child from starting on the drugs, is seen as suppressing gender identity, which is now an offence,” 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 gender identity. “Gender transitioning, by affirming a young person’s discomfort with his or her body, and by offering medical solutions to ‘fix’ the problems, is itself a conversion practice, especially if it involves converting young lesbians or gays, sometimes called ‘transing the gay away’,” 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 done to children and young people by clinicians. The Women’s Rights 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 gender transitioning practices occurring right now.