FEDERAL MP and Chief Opposition Whip Warren Entsch has spoken out for children who deal every day with the challenge of growing up as a transgender or intersex person.
“I’ve been following the story of the young transgender girl, who featured in the Sunday Mail last week and also on 60 Minutes, who struggled to gain acceptance by her school,” Mr Entsch explained.
“It’s difficult to imagine the anguish of the family and in particular, the young girl, in dealing with issues like these, which are compounded by the inadequacy and vagueness of current legislation.
“I raised the matter in the Party Room this week and used the opportunity to serve notice that if I’m elected in the next parliament, I will be spearheading changes to address the issues that exist.”
Research suggests that 1 in 500 people identify as transgender, including those who do not seek surgery, and the estimated rates of babies born with intersex conditions vary up to 1.7 per cent of the population.
The limited data available on transgender and intersex populations in Australia means that the extreme stigma and discrimination experienced by these communities remains hidden, Mr Entsch said.
“There needs to be changes and a consistent national approach on a whole range of issues,” the MP for Leichhardt explained.
“A key issue for transgender children is their need to have access to hormone blockers – this is absolutely critical and the blockers do no harm if the child decides not to go ahead with gender change in the future.”
Mental health is a struggle for many intersex and transgender people, who are at least two to three times more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the broader community, with 50 per cent of transgender people having attempted suicide.
“We need to ensure that a proportion of Commonwealth mental health funding is directed to services that offer specifically targeted support services with a genuine and compassionate understanding of the issues,” Mr Entsch said.
“It’s timely to have this discussion as the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex) Act 2013 has just been before Parliament.
“There needs to be a realisation at all levels that many families have to face up to challenges like Jane’s. In today’s society, there should not be situations where these children and young people are forced to feel that they’re different in any way.
“This is especially important because the number of young people and families who are affected by these issues is growing rapidly.”
Mr Entsch has long advocated for the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people and played a key role when legislation was enacted to reduce legal and financial discrimination. He is also Chair of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for the LGBTI community.
To view a PDF version of the media release, click here