Flat White

So what will you do about “gender whisperers”, Prime Minister?

6 September 2018

11:14 AM

6 September 2018

11:14 AM

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said earlier this week that the reason why he has chosen to send his daughters to a private school was that programs such as Building Respectful Relationships, conflicted with his own personal values. The PM cited the example of a scenario involving a 17-year-old bisexual woman who has had 15 sexual partners on 2GB. Fair enough. But then, yesterday, he doubled-down on the issue with this tweet:

According to The Daily Telegraph, there has been a “236 per cent surge in the number of kids wanting to change sex in the past three years”. And this is all because teachers are “being taught to spot potential transgender students”. How is this to be professionally assessed? Well, apparently:

It involves teachers learning to identify key phrases such as “I feel different”, “I’m androgynous” and “I’m born with two spirits”, indicating transgender leanings in students as young as five.

However, not only is this highly subjective but surely it goes against the very basis of biological science? As cardiologist Dr Paula Johnson, says in a popular TED talk: “Every cell has a sex – and what that means is that men and women are different down to the cellular and molecular level. It means that we’re different across all our organs, from our brains to our hearts, our lungs, our joints”.

What’s more, according to Dr John Whitehall, the Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Western Sydney, the rates of children identifying as transgender have in the past been extremely small. As Dr Whitehall wrote in Quadrant Online:

Paediatricians with a total of 931 years’ experience reported only 12 cases of gender confusion, meaning just one genuine case might be expected every 76 years. Now, each year in Australia, hundreds are presenting for treatment which the ascendant orthodoxy decrees must be provided.

According to Telegraph, “Gender counsellor Dr Elizabeth Riley, who has advised 40 private, public and Catholic schools in the past three years, said it was important to educate teachers given one per cent of students were transgender.” However, the reality is those suffering from gender dysphoria is only a fraction of that actual figure. As Prof Whitehall states in another article:

No one really knows because there is “an absence of formal prevalence studies” and estimates vary greatly. The leader of Toronto’s Transgender Youth Clinic at the Hospital for Sick Children, Dr Joey Bonifacio, says estimates based on adult dysphoria clinics range from 0.005 to 0.014 per cent for men convinced they are women and 0.002 to 0.003 per cent for women convinced they are men, but believes they are “likely modest underestimates”.

Unfortunately, this is a trend that is also being observed overseas. According to Caldron Pool, last year The Telegraph (UK) reported “The number of children being referred to gender identity clinics has quadrupled in five years.” In 2012/13 a total of 20 children, between the ages of three and seven, were referred to the Gender Identity Development Services, a facility for transgender children. In 2016 that number rose to 84. Referrals for children under the age of 10 also increased from 35 in 2012/13 to 165 in 2016.

Overall, there was a staggering total of 2,016 referrals for children aged between three and 18. That’s over six times more than the 314 referrals five years earlier. Here’s a breakdown:

2012/13: 3 to 7-years – 20 referrals
2016: 3 to 7-years – 84 referrals (+64)
2012/13: 10-years and younger – 35 referrals
2016: 10-years and younger – 165 referrals (+130)
2012/13: 3 to 18-years – 314 referrals
2016: 3 to 18-years – 2,016 referrals (+1,702)

All children deserve to be raised in a safe and caring environment. And as such, Mr Morrison is absolutely right. State sanctioned ‘gender whisperers’ should have absolutely no part in the education system. Let kids be kids and stop trying to mess around with their gender. Just how far, though, the new Prime Minister and his government will push back against the sexualisation of vulnerable children remains to be seen.

Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield. 

Illustration: Ben Davis.

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