Gender Affirming Care

The facts on children and gender affirming care

Claim: Children and teenagers know they are transgender and not affirming them is dangerous.

The facts

How often do we hear that we need to ‘protect trans kids’ and that transgender identifying children are at risk of self-harm and suicide if not affirmed in their chosen gender? The language used is highly emotive. It can be difficult to disentangle the facts and get to the truth when the wellbeing of children is being discussed – but it is vital that we do so.

The facts

  • Human brain development is not complete until the age of 25 or perhaps later.

  • Research shows that feelings of gender dysphoria eventually disappear for the vast majority of children and many of them realise they are actually same sex attracted.

  • There has been a rapid rise in the number of minors identifying as transgender in the past decade, and an alarming rise in the number of young girls identifying as boys. In Sweden, for example, there was a 1500% increase in gender dysphoria among teenage girls between 2008 and 2018.

  • Countries in Europe including the UK, Norway, Finland and Sweden have wound back or sometimes stopped gender affirming care for minors because of the risks and the lack of data to support its efficacy.

  • In Australia, indicative data provided by five gender clinics in NSW, Qld, SA, Victoria and WA show significant increases in the numbers of minors with gender dysphoria enrolled there between 2014 and 2019.

  • Many children and teenagers presenting at gender clinics have other underlying conditions or diagnoses such as autism or eating disorders, or have experienced sexual abuse or other trauma. These issues appear in many cases not to be adequately addressed before a diagnosis of gender dysphoria is made.

  • There are reported cases in Australia of children as young as four being ‘socially transitioned.’ Children that young have no concept of ‘gender’ and are simply not capable of understanding the consequences of transitioning.

And then there is the use of the language ‘gender affirming care’. These term obscures the reality of what actually takes place when teenagers and young people are giving ‘gender treatment.

  • In Australia, children as young as 16 can be prescribed cross-sex hormones. For females, this means testosterone. The side-effects of testosterone can include cardiovascular disease, weight gain, sleep apnea and high blood pressure. It can also cause voice changes, male-pattern baldness and facial hair growth which are not reversible.

  • Top surgery’ for trans-identifying females actually means an elective double mastectomy and carries the same risks as any other major surgery.

  • Bottom surgery’ for trans-identifying men actually means the removal of the penis and testicles and the creation of a fake vagina, which will need to be dilated daily for the rest of their lives. It is castration under another name.

  • Bottom surgery’ for trans-identifying women means the removal of skin and fat from the forearm to create a fake penis, which does not resemble a real penis and needs to be ‘inflated’.

These are the realities to bear in mind when people discuss ‘gender affirming care.

Why does it matter?

  • AF4WR firmly believes that children and teenagers cannot consent to these extreme procedures. They simply do not have the emotional maturity or brain development to understand the life-long impact.

  • Children and teenagers are presenting to gender clinics in real distress and this needs to be understood and addressed. However, the causes of this distress need to be investigated.

  • Failing to address underlying issues under the ‘affirmation model’ of care risks turning thousands of children into life-long medical patients. Researchers at Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney found that underlying issues for the children presenting at the hospital with gender dysphoria were being ignored. These issues included ‘family trauma, sexual abuse, depression and autism.

  • Their report found that the evidence for using puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones was ‘sparse and contradictory’ and urged a more holistic approach to treating children with gender dysphoria.

  • In Queensland, Senior Psychiatrist Dr Jillian Spencer has lodged a human rights complaint against her employer, the QLD Children’s Hospital. Dr Spencer was stood down from her position after objecting to the ‘affirmation first’ model of gender care.

  • In her complaint, Dr Spencer wrote: “I was concerned about the increasing number of children and adolescents – especially biological females – presenting with gender dysphoria in the context of comorbid mental health diagnoses and complex psychological issues, including trauma.”

  • There are a growing number of experts and parents also questioning the affirmation model, as well as a growing community of detransitioners, including in Australia, who are testifying to the harmful effects of transition in general and the affirmation approach more specifically. Many are blaming adults for allowing these things to be done to their immature and often psychologically unwell selves.

  • A large number of children presenting with gender distress are same sex attracted. Gender affirming care is, in many cases, conversation therapy under another name – ‘transing away the gay.’

Some recent examples

Keira Bell, a young female de-transitioner, sued the Tavistock clinic in a landmark case.

Courtney Coulson is an Australian female destransitioner who was interviewed in July 2023 by 4 Corners.

Chloe Cole is a female destransitioner in the USA who has given evidence to the House of Representatives about how transitioning ruined her childhood

Read more

Read the Westmead paper

Professor Dianna Kenny is a psychologist and psychotherapist who has raised serious concerns about gender affirming care. You can read her articles and listen to or watch her interviews on her website

Read Dr Lisa Littman’s paper on Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria

In Sweden, gender dysphoria diagnoses in teenagers have increased by 1500%

Sweden has since ‘put brakes on treatments for trans children’

Read more about Finland pulling back on gender affirming care

Clinical and Ethical Considerations in the Treatment of Gender Dysphoric Children and Adolescents: When Doing Less Is Helping More.” Journal of Infant, Child, and Adolescent Psychotherapy 20(4): 439–449.

GenderHQ explores why so many young females are identifying as transgender

Gender clinician admits the evidence for gender affirming care is weak