Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has said that he wants young trans people to have access to consistent standards of care across Australia.
The announcement could signal the beginning of improvements to health and other support services.
The MP’s comments were in response to calls from groups, chiefly Christian lobby organisations and the conservative media, to investigate the increase in young trans people seeking healthcare.
“It is important we have a nationally consistent standard of care that is evidence-based and with appropriate safeguards to protect the interests of the patient,” said a spokesperson for Hunt.
“In recognition of the risks of further harm to young people, the government does not intend to establish a national inquiry on this matter.
“Individuals identifying as transgender and gender diverse often have unique healthcare needs and are at an increased risk of poor health outcomes and mental health issues.
“Any next steps will be undertaken in partnership with relevant experts and taking into account the best available evidence.”
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has also opposed conservative criticism of young trans people receiving care, and told Hunt that a national inquiry “would not increase the scientific evidence available regarding gender dysphoria but would further harm vulnerable patients and their families through increased media and public attention”.
Despite misconceptions and concerns from some over recent years, gender transition for trans children does not involve hormones or surgery.
Transition prior to puberty is social, often involving changes such as clothing or haircut choices.
Older trans adolescents may take reversible puberty blockers that temporarily prevent the start of puberty and its potentially distressing permanent changes.
Those who wish to medically transition may begin hormone replacement therapy in their later teens, and transition surgeries are only available to adults.
The medical care available to young trans people currently varies hugely, with dedicated clinics in some major cities and no facilities at all in other areas, particularly for regional and rural Australians.
Victorian Equality Minister Martin Foley welcomed the announcement that the federal government intends to develop nationally consistent care standards.
“Victoria has a world-leading gender clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital and our team there would be well-placed to lead on developing national consistency,” said Foley.
Young people or their parents needing support around gender can refer to our list of Australian services and resources.