GPs face legal risks over hormones for teens

The Australian 5 August 2021
GPs have been warned they may face disciplinary action or law suits if they give cross-sex hormone drugs to transgender-identifying minors.

Protesting long waits for specialist gender clinics, trans health advocates have promoted the US-style “informed consent” model as a fast-track to hormonal treatment not requiring expert ­diagnosis of the distressful condition gender dysphoria.

But GPs are being misled about the law, which demands a formal diagnosis and a multidisciplinary treatment team with specialists before 16 and 17-year-olds can be given these hormone drugs ­carrying a risk of infertility, according to University of Queensland legal academic Patrick Parkinson and senior psychiatrist Philip Morris.

“It is important that the medical profession understands these constraints because incorrect ­advice on the legal requirements has been circulating within the profession,” they write in the Medical Journal of Australia’s ­Insight magazine.

“In no circumstances should a medical practitioner initiate ‘gender-affirming’ treatment for adolescents under 18 years of age without a proper diagnosis and multidisciplinary assessment of gender dysphoria (justifying hormonal treatment).”

GPs who ignore this warning face a risk of disciplinary action by health regulators or litigation by patients who come to regret treatment, Professor Parkinson says.

His MJA Insight article targets the award-winning TransHub website, which has claimed “any GP is able to prescribe gender ­affirming hormonal therapy for most people aged 16 and above, without requiring approval from a mental health professional or ­endocrinologist”.

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