Transgender conference sparks fierce national backlash


A conference on the “negative” impacts of transgenderism has caused outrage across the rainbow community.

The event is planned to be held in Nelson on August 5 and was organised by Child and Adolescent Therapists Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (CATA).

It will play host to speakers on topics like “The history of transgenderism and its erasure of lesbians and gays”, and detransitioner Fern Hickson.

Another talk scheduled was a discussion of the implications of the Conversion Practices Prohibition Act 2022 “for counsellors, teachers and parents”.

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Conversion therapy was banned by law this year. It is a criminal offence to attempt to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through harmful therapy practices.

Neuroscience educator and parenting expert Nathan Wallis was due to appear in a panel discussion, but pulled out earlier this week.

On Facebook, he made his views known: “I do not support the organisers [sic] values and they do not align with my own”.

A change.org petition calling for the conference venue, the Rutherford Hotel, to cancel their arrangements with organisers attracted 3500 signatures by 10am on Friday.

​​​​​​Dr David Sar Shalom said freedom of speech came with the responsibility to provide accurate information based on science and evidence.​

Robyn Edie

​​​​​​Dr David Sar Shalom said freedom of speech came with the responsibility to provide accurate information based on science and evidence.​

Southland GP Dr David Sar Shalom works with rainbow youth and is circulating a letter to be sent to the Royal College of General Practitioners raising concerns about the conference.

He described the event as “outrageous”, “wrong”, “mind-blowing”, and “upsetting”.

“I don’t know how an association of therapists would think that this is actually beneficial to the people that they’re meant to be treating.

“It just goes against all logic that they would neglect to even consider the consequences of holding such an event.”

In a statement provided to Stuff, a CATA spokesperson said the group wanted to “provide information from a child development position”.

The New Zealand Psychological Society said on Friday it was concerned about the conference.

In a statement said the proposed conference programme did not reflect evidence-based best practice in working with transgender or gender-diverse children and adolescents.

“The presentations appear to pathologise transgender people and support conversion-style practices which are unethical and contrary to the interests, wellbeing and safety of takatāpui and LGBTQIA+ people,” the society said.

“Psychologists recognise that the approach that supports the best outcomes for transgender people, and those who care for them, is to offer culturally appropriate, gender-affirming services.”

The society said being transgender was not a psychological illness or disorder, and was a normal, healthy variation in human functioning and bodies. Support was often needed due to discrimination and stigma from others in society.

Shalom said while there was freedom of speech, that came with the responsibility to provide accurate information based on science and evidence, and not to use fear and misinformation that could very well be very detrimental to an already very vulnerable community.

He said GPs in Nelson involved with parent and caregiver support groups had been reaching out to the hotel where the event was going to take place, and to some speakers individually.

University of Otago, Wellington research fellow Dr Brodie Fraser, who has done research into the discrimination Takatāpui and LGBTIQ+ people face in the housing market, said they didn’t think speakers like this should be platformed.

Dr Brodie Fraser from the University of Otago, Wellington said parents needed to love and support children exploring their gender or wanting to transition.

Ross Giblin

Dr Brodie Fraser from the University of Otago, Wellington said parents needed to love and support children exploring their gender or wanting to transition.

“To me, it just seems straight up to be fear mongering amongst parents who might not have the information that they need to be able to support their children.”

Fraser said for parents, the topic might be something new, and it was easy to “get very worried” about their kids. It could be confronting for them having to come to grips with the fact that “maybe your child isn’t who you thought they were, or they’re wanting to explore who they are”.

But research showed that the most important thing parents could do for children who were exploring their gender or wanting to transition was just to love and support them, let them go through the process, and respect them through that, they said.

Fraser said research showed regret rates for gender-affirming surgery were “incredibly low” at less than 1 or 2%. By comparison, regret rates for knee replacement surgery sat at around 20%.

“It’s a very, very, very low number of people who do regret that, and usually one of the main reasons that people do regret it is because the rest of the world isn’t accepting. It’s really hard to be trans in our world at the moment.”

Fraser said they wanted to state that puberty blockers were safe, and that young people were not being put on irreversible forms of health care.

“A lot of these people [seem] to have this view that people are just throwing out hormones to any young person that comes through their door, but it is definitely not that easy. There are a lot of steps that you do have to go through. Doctors are very careful with it.”

The wait time for gender-affirming surgery, they said, was around 20 years.

Dr Brodie Fraser said research showed regret rates for gender-affirming surgery were “incredibly low” at less than 1 or 2%. By comparison, regret rates for knee replacement surgery sat at around 20%.

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Dr Brodie Fraser said research showed regret rates for gender-affirming surgery were “incredibly low” at less than 1 or 2%. By comparison, regret rates for knee replacement surgery sat at around 20%.

Statistics from a University of Waikato survey in 2019 on the health of trans and non-binary Kiwis painted a grim picture.

Trans and non-binary people experience high levels of psychological distress, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

Almost a third of participants reported that someone had sex with them against their will since they were 13, more than four times the rate of sexual violence in the general population

They face high levels of discrimination trying to find work or housing.

In the past 12 months, more than half of the participants had seriously thought about attempting suicide and 12% had made a suicide attempt.

RYAN ANDERSON/STUFF

At birth, Robin Kapeteni’s gender was assigned as male, but that never felt quite right.

The study suggested that when trans or non-binary people were supported by families, teachers, classmates, workmates or community it could save lives.

Shalom said that a survey from the US’s Trevor Project showed that when a young person who was LGBTQIA or within the spectrum of the rainbow community had one adult that they knew know about them and support them in their inquiry about who they were, and who they were attracted to, their chances of attempting suicide dropped by 40%.

Shalom is on the board of trustees of Chroma, an initiative aimed at developing resources and visibility and providing healthcare and legal support for LGBTQI+ Southlanders.

Resources for parents: https://www.transgenderchildren.nz/ and https://outline.org.nz/parents/ and https://genderminorities.com/2017/04/01/help-is-my-child-transgender/



Source link https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/128897870/transgender-conference-sparks-fierce-national-backlash.html

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