One of Australia’s top experts on gender has raised concerns that children and teens are overdiagnosed as transgender.
Adolescents are “trying out being transgender” to stand out or gain attention from their peers, psychiatrist Stephen Stathis told the Courier Mail last week. “One said to me, ‘Dr. Steve … I want to be transgender, it’s the new black,” he recalled.
Stathis, who runs Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, said a gender dysphoria diagnosis will be given to only a tiny minority of the 180 minors who seek treatment at his clinic this year.
A gender dysphoria diagnosis is the first step for a transgender person to begin transitioning. Though children under 18 cannot get gender-reassignment surgery in Australia, they can receive hormonal therapy or treatment to suppress puberty.
In an interview last month, Stathis said that up to three-fourths of young patients who “present with gender variant interests and behaviors, or are gender diverse” will outgrow the feelings and don’t need treatment.
“You might get a six- or seven-year-old girl wanting to dress as a boy,” he said. “She may even say she wants to be a boy. When she hits puberty, she says, ‘No, I’m just a girl who likes to do boy things.”
Stathis’s clinic recently received a $1.117 million federal grant to cut wait times for patients seeking gender-related medical care.
Before he prescribes hormone-blockers, Stathis requires children and adolescents to undergo intensive mental-health screenings with multiple psychiatrists. They also must show that they have “socially transitioned” to their preferred gender for at least six months, the Brisbane Times reported.