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A Parent's response to an opinion piece on the Cass review

09/06/2024 10:35 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

A parent’s response to an opinion piece published on News24 on 30 May 2024, titled The Cass Review on gender-affirming care: SA's medical community now at a crossroads

Dear News24*, I was appalled to read such a biased commentary by doctors with no experience with trans children/ youth, parents of trans children or gender affirming care. They summarise a UK report that is flawed in nature and compromised by a rising 'moral panic' as children increasingly come out as trans in an environment that finally allows them to. Those fuelling the panic assume that a child comes out to their parents and within a month is taking puberty blockers. It doesn't work like this in life. Parents, like myself, are shell shocked when it happens. Many don't accept it and others, like myself, tell our child we love them, hope it's a passing phase and try to educate ourselves. As the months pass, we realise it's not a passing phase, and we start to confront the journey ahead. We cry, we grieve, we fear the backlash, we are confused. We struggle to find gender/trans aware doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists. Our kids want things to happen quicker, parents want to slow it down. It takes months to see an endocrinologist and it must be done with the support of a psychiatrist.

Puberty blockers have been used for 40 years for girls with precocious puberty, so why the outcry now is beyond me. There is 40 years of data on puberty blockers and the one side effect of possible decreased bone density returns to normal once the medication is stopped. Parents and children investigate all the side effects and make difficult decisions. Cross sex hormones don't start for years, much to the frustration of many trans children. They watch their friends go through puberty and must wait years to do the same. Less than 1% of children 'detransition' (a horrible phrase) yet the public will focus and amplify that anomaly. Why don't these doctors research the 99% of trans individuals who transition and are happy? And all panic discussion leaves out the consequences of denying a child's right to transition socially and later medically. Trans youth have a 50% suicide rate and in some studies, it is higher. I have watched my child's despair as 'professionals' and adults decide his future. I have watched adults call him an abomination, refer to him as 'it' or 'confused' and even lost a friend because their parents decided my son was now a rapist. My son hides in his bedroom, has panic attacks, won't shower because he had to undress, has swapped schools 3 times and yes, he attempted suicide at 13 and often cuts himself. How about these doctors describe the benefits when a child is allowed to socially and medically transition to their authentic selves? Every day is a fight to keep my child alive. Surely this is a medical issue to be contemplated. Medical aids don't cover gender affirming care. Puberty blockers cost over R6,000 for a 3 monthly injection. Top surgery (removal of the breasts) starts at about R80,000. Many kids have to move to small expensive schools that can support their needs. As such, only the wealthy can truly support their children medically. Trans individuals are less likely to find work, so struggle to cover these costs when they are older. How about these doctors investigate the inequalities of health care in this country, talk to trans individuals about their health care needs and insert gender training into the medical school syllabus instead of meddling with a flawed report? Warm regards Helen

*This letter was sent to News24 in response to their harmful article. The author gave PATHSA permission to publish it.


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