Meagan Hayes says if it wasn't for professional support, her daughter might not be here today. Photo: 60 Minutes
Meagan Hayes says if it wasn't for professional support, her daughter might not be here today. Photo: 60 Minutes

Gender therapy vital for saving kids, mum says

A GYMPIE mother says her daughter wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the professional support she received while undergoing a gender transition.

Meagan Hayes' daughter, Emma, was born as Ronan but is now thriving as a 15-year-old girl.

Ms Hayes said counselling for her daughter and herself was vital for them to navigate and understand the changes they were facing.

But doctors' fears they could face jail if they continue counselling children who want to change gender under Queensland's proposed new laws outlawing conversion therapies would mean not all kids had the same chance, Ms Hayes said.

The National Association of Practising Psychiatrists is concerned vital psychotherapy that probes the reasons for a patient wanting to transition would be impacted by the law, which bans practices that work to suppress gender identity.

Health Minister Steven Miles says practices that try to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation are immoral. Picture: Steve Pohlner
Health Minister Steven Miles says practices that try to change or suppress a person’s sexual orientation are immoral. Picture: Steve Pohlner

Under section 5B of the Health and Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, doctors who carry out such practices would face up to 18 months in jail - leading to fears conventional counselling would be shunned to avoid potential legal consequences.

Ms Hayes said children and families needed support when a child expressed a wish to change gender, and said the consequences of not having that available would be "detrimental".

"I think it's going to be detrimental. The suicide rate, I believe, is probably going to go up," she said.

"Doctors need to do their jobs to support the kids don't they? Isn't that logical?"

Emma first started mentioning gender to her mum when she was about four years old.

"I had no idea what it was all about," Ms Hayes said.

"I didn't even know what it meant."

Not knowing where to go from there, Emma was left with little knowledge and faced a number of struggles until she found professional support.

Ms Hayes said Emma struggled through her early school years because she "wasn't who she wanted to be".

"I don't think she would be here, honestly, if we weren't able to do this and (without) the help from all the doctors and everyone involved," she said.

Now Emma is "happier than ever", something her mum credits to the high level of care they'd had access to for the past few years.

"It's not something that you generally do on your own, you need some support," she said.

NAPP president Dr Philip Morris told the Courier Mail "conventional and ethical actions of the physician must never be regarded as conversion practices under Queensland law".

"The assessment of gender dysphoria means exploring and understanding the reasons why an individual has come to the belief that their gender is different to the gender assigned at birth," Dr Morris said.

"It is a big decision and should be carefully investigated before the move towards puberty-blocking drugs, sex hormones and surgery before the age of 18 years."

The Bill is being examined by the Parliamentary Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee. Its report is expected on February 21.


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