NSW One Nation leader Mark Latham and Australian Conservatives candidate Greg Walsh have blamed trans kids’ poor mental health outcomes on their ability to self-identify, rather than the rampant transphobia they face.

At a forum hosted by libertarian think tank the Centre for Independent Studies, Latham and Walsh made several alarming comments about trans young people.

Latham, who recently announced a One Nation NSW policy to ban trans self-identification, claimed the existence of a “self-identification system evil political program to make young people confused and rise up”, news.com.au reported.

“To use this in this way is shameful and it shouldn’t be in our schools,” he said.

Latham claimed that trans and gender diverse young people are “mentally ill” because they are “changing their gender every other day”.

Walsh, who is standing for the NSW legislative council at this weekend’s election, is a law lecturer the University of Notre Dame Australia – which in past surveys has been counted among the least LGBTI-friendly universities in Australia.

He joined Latham in claiming that transphobia couldn’t possibly contribute to poor mental health among trans young people.

Nearly half of trans young people aged 14 to 25 in Australia have attempted suicide, and are ten times more likely to experience severe depression and anxiety, according to a 2017 study.

“The argument is that this is happening because we’re such a transphobic society,” Walsh said.

“But if you look at how drastic the surgery is for a transgender and a person changes their mind, then they just have to realise they’ve been mutilated,” he said, even though many trans and gender diverse people never have surgery.

Walsh noted that “there are lots of studies that show people who are transgender are at much higher risk of depression, anxiety and suicide” but instead of acknowledging that telling trans people who have undergone surgery that they have “been mutilated”, he said that the surgery itself is “a very good justification as for such a high suicide rate”.

Walsh called for there to be a national inquiry to “ensure we’ve got the science right” around the treatment of gender dysphoria, suggesting that trans kids’s “issues will resolve” if they just go through puberty.

Standards of care and treatment guidelines for transgender and gender diverse children published in the Medical Journal of Australia last year were the result of years of research, treatment and direct interaction with patients.

At the time, lead author Associate Professor Michelle Telfer said “the consequences of not treating are known to be severe in terms of depression, self harm, suicide.”

“What we know now is that transgender children and adolescents experience high rates of stigma and discrimination, bullying, social exclusion and abuse and as a consequence of all of those negative experience the mental health outcomes for this population are very poor,” she said.

“But with supportive care, affirming care and access to medical interventions at the right times those harms can be reduced and in some cases ameliorated.”

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