Today TARA calls on Tony Attwood to refrain from commenting any further about Autistic children and gender - more specifically, his opinion of their ability to know what gender they are. His comments are ill informed.
They are not based on reputable, peer reviewed evidence or publications. Instead of going to the sources for information - the Gender Services, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), or even Federal Health Minister Mr. Greg Hunt, who had the RACP examine this matter - he has repeated stories that have done the rounds in the US and the UK.
These stories push an agenda that gender dysphoria is an obsession; that gender transition is nothing more than a way to avoid social isolation and exclusion; and a way to cure Autism.
Mr. Attwood’s words and actions are deeply disrespectful of Autistic children and adults, being founded purely on a deficits-based assessment of our capacities and identities. We note that he has thrown his reputation into the hands of The Australian newspaper which has been conducting an aggressive campaign against trans and diverse people for some time now.
Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, and resources created by Victorian peak autism advocacy organisation Amaze have data that shows autistic people (of all ages) are 7x more likely than their neurotypical peers to identify as gender diverse, including trans. These statistics are comparable to TARA’s community, which is predominantly autistic people, their parents, and siblings.
TARA does not support any kind of inquiry into why autistic people are more likely to be trans or gender diverse. Instead, we ask the government to ensure that services are funded to support the additional needs of our trans and gender diverse community members.
Federal Government response, April 2020
TARA would like to acknowledge that the Federal Government has made it clear that they do not have plans for an inquiry on this topic, and are instead looking at how to best support gender diverse Australian youth.
In response to calls for a national probe into the clinical treatment of trans and gender diverse children, Federal Health Minister Mr. Greg Hunt requested advice from the RACP. In their response they warned that this “would not increase the scientific evidence available regarding gender dysphoria but would further harm vulnerable patients and their families through increased media and public attention”.
The Age reported on April 18 2020 that after reviewing this advice, the Federal Government decided against an inquiry.
“It is important we have a nationally consistent standard of care that is evidence-based and with appropriate safeguards to protect the interests of the patient,” Mr. Hunt told The Sunday Age through his spokesman at the time.
“In recognition of the risks of further harm to young people, the government does not intend to establish a national inquiry on this matter.”