The Australian Senate has rejected South Australian Liberal Senator Alex Antic’s anti-trans bill, which would have banned all forms of gender-affirming care for minors.
Antic’s Childhood Gender Transition Prohibition Bill 2023 was introduced to the Senate in October, and supported by UAP’s Ralph Babet and National’s Matt Canavan. The Bill aimed to ban all forms of hormone replacement therapy and prosecute health providers providing gender-affirming service to people under the age of 18.
On Thursday morning, November 16, the Senate voted on the bill, which was knocked down with 32 senators against the ban and 23 senators for.
The Senate’s choice to reject the Bill has been welcomed by multiple LGBTQI advocacy groups and medical experts, who express the need for the essential health service from experienced professionals.
‘An Unprecedented Attack’
Legal Director for Equality Australia, Ghassan Kassisieh labelled the Bill as “an unprecedented attack on the rights of trans young people.” Expressing the significance of the Senate’s rejection, he said denying gender-affirming care would cause “immeasurable trauma and irreversible harm.”
“Medical decisions are for patients not parliaments to make, supported by parents and clinicians who know the risks and benefits and can put the individual concerned at the centre of any decision,” Kassisieh explained.
“Australian courts have repeatedly approved this treatment, recognising it represents the orthodox middle approach among the medical community.”
Carlie Morri, a spokesperson for Parents for Transgender Youth Equity and parent of a trans child, questioned the reason for politicians wanting to impose such bans.
“How could a politician possibly know what a child needs more than their mother or father, or more than the highly-trained medical professionals… about the best treatment for their child,” said Morri.
Decisions By Families and Professionals
Morri explains that the responsibility for allowing children to receive care is the “fundamental right for parents,” in ensuring the health, safety and overall well-being of their child are adequately met.
“I should not have to compromise my daughter’s access to health care for the sake of political opportunism.”
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that no child should be deprived of their right of access to health care services. We wouldn’t deny a diabetic child access to insulin. Why is it any different for my child?”
Health care professionals, including AusPATH Vice President Dr Portia Predny, agreed that decisions for trans and gender diverse children should be supported by their family.
Furthermore, Predny says it is important for knowledgeable healthcare professionals with “experience and expertise” be properly accessible to tailor an individual and their specific needs.
“This includes medical treatments… which are prescribed and monitored by experienced clinicians, following guidelines that have been established through research and clinical evidence, to ensure patient safety,” Predny explained.
The ban from the Liberal senator was a surprise considering the former government’s previous stance on gender-affirming care.
In 2020, former Health Minister Greg Hunt rejected calls for a national inquiry into the treatment of trans and gender diverse youth.
This aligned with advice from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) that said, “withholding or limiting access to gender-affirming healthcare would be unethical and have serious impacts on the health and wellbeing of young people.”