Since the middle of 2020, while everyone was busy with pandemic matters, the ACT, Queensland, and Victorian governments passed laws to ban the practice of “conversion therapy”. Victoria’s Change or Suppression (Conversion) Practices Prohibition Act 2021 is the most comprehensive of these. These laws have been lauded as important steps in protecting the freedom of LGBTQI+ Australians. Other states will inevitably follow suit and national legislation is already on the agenda.
In the Orwellian dystopia in which we find ourselves, it’s important to clarify what “conversion therapy” means. “Conversion therapy” is anything that goes against the affirmation of someone’s sexual orientation or, crucially, their subjective gender identity. It can include – we are told – forms of abuse like beatings, electrocution, forced medication, castration, lobotomy and clitoridectomy.
Freedom from torture, inhumane or degrading treatment is protected in human rights legislation across Australia. So why was new legislation really needed? On the website dedicated to the CSPP Act, the Victorian government has kindly provided a section “For families and friends”. It informs us that “it is against the law to try to change or suppress someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity”. There is a handy list of examples of prohibited practices, of which the first two are:
- a parent denying their child access to any health care services that would affirm their child’s gender identity.
- a parent refusing to support their child’s request for medical treatment that will prevent physical changes from puberty.
In another section we are informed that criminalised conversion practices also include “people receiving subtle and repeated messages, that with faith and effort, they can change or hide their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
It goes as far as listing what can be said in prayer and what cannot.
Until very recently “psychotherapy involved helping the child to feel more comfortable in their own body with the belief that gender is quite malleable at a young age and gender dysphoria will likely resolve itself over time” . This has now become a criminal offence.
More disturbingly, the same people that condemn prayer, psychotherapy, and genuine parental concern, are more than happy to promote radically dangerous practices when they are performed on children in the name of gender affirmation.
So-called affirmation treatments include:
- Puberty suppression drugs, administered by intramuscular injection every 3 months, even though no drugs have been approved by the TGA for treatment of gender dysphoria.
- A lifetime of dependence on cross-sex hormones to develop secondary characteristics of the opposite sex (e.g., testosterone to cause a girl’s voice to deepen).
- Surgery. Options for males include facial feminization (nose reshaping, tracheal shave, cheek implants, etc), body feminization (trunk liposuction, buttocks augmentation), breast implants and “penile inversion”, where the penis is turned inside out to form the inner walls of a “neo vagina”. Options for females include double mastectomies and phalloplasty, a procedure that involves taking skin, fat, nerves and arteries from an arm or leg to create a penis.
Like many other issues of our time, we are supposed to believe the science is settled: gender affirmative interventions are always, unquestionably, in the best interest of the child.
Nothing is further from the truth. A 2023 study from The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, NSW, concluded that “the evidence-base pertaining to the gender-affirming medical pathway is sparse and, for the young people who may regret their choice of pathway at a future point in time, the risks for potential harm are significant.”
Osteoporosis is a known risk of puberty suppression, but very little is known about the long-term effects of stopping the natural process of growth. Cross-sex hormones are associated with cardiovascular disease and blood clots. Their impact on fertility and sexual function is still not well understood. Not surprisingly, there can be significant complications with major surgical interventions offered as gender-affirming “care”. Finland, Sweden, Norway, France, and the UK have placed severe restrictions or banned these practices on minors altogether.
It’s hard to image how anyone could support such barbarism. Yet the perversely misleading “conversion ban” laws promote these discredited radical interventions. Such laws are not based on the best available science but reflect the influence of Queer Theory ideologues, convinced beyond any doubt that children can (and should) bypass the perils of puberty and mould their bodies into whatever shape they want, in an impossible quest to become something that they are not. Like all irrational crusaders, they use state coercion to impose their views.
As the hubristic celebrations of Pride Month come to an end, we can only pray for our political leaders to find the humility to change course.
 Gender questioning children and family law: an evolving landscape. Paper for the Australian Family Law profession. Belle Lane.
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Lionel is an IT engineer with more than 20 years’ experience developing enterprise applications in the private and public sectors. He completed his computer science degree in Venezuela in 2001. Then in 2002, Lionel moved to Australia after obtaining an international internship in Canberra. He became an Australian citizen in 2008.