Sexual Health Sexual Health Society
Publishing on sexual health from the widest perspective
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Gender dysphoria and the controversy over the Safe Schools program

Patrick Parkinson
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. Email: patrick.parkinson@sydney.edu.au

Sexual Health 14(5) 417-422 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH17014
Submitted: 13 February 2017  Accepted: 11 April 2017   Published: 30 May 2017

Abstract

The Safe Schools program has attracted great controversy. On one end of the spectrum, it is defended as an anti-bullying program for young people who identify themselves as gay or lesbian, or have issues concerning their gender identity. On the other end of the spectrum, it is regarded as social engineering. This article seeks to promote a discussion of the way in which gender identity issues are addressed in the Safe Schools program. It is argued that the information in this program to Principals, teachers and young people is inaccurate and misleading. The program, as presently designed, may actually cause harm to children and young people who experience gender identity issues because it promotes gender transitioning without expert medical advice. The Safe Schools materials do not acknowledge that the great majority of children resolve gender dysphoria issues around the time of puberty. It may be much more difficult for a child to accept his or her gender at puberty if he or she has already changed name and gender identity in primary school. These deficits need to be addressed if the program is to continue.


References

[1]  Telfer M, Tollit M, Feldman D. Transformation of health-care and legal systems for the transgender population: the need for change. J Paediatr Child Health 2015; 51 1051–3.
Transformation of health-care and legal systems for the transgender population: the need for change.CrossRef |

[2]  De Cuypere G, Van Hemelrijck M, Michel A, Carael B, Heylens G, Rubens R, Hoebeke P, Monstrey S. Prevalence and demography of transsexualism in Belgium. Eur Psychiatry 2007; 22 137–41.
Prevalence and demography of transsexualism in Belgium.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DC%2BD2s3gslCmtg%3D%3D&md5=ff525564992bbafc3155d2ce98b29248CAS |

[3]  Ross M, Walinder J, Lundstrom B, Thuwe I. Cross-cultural approaches to transsexualism: a comparison between Sweden and Australia. Acta Psychiatr Scand 1981; 63 75–82.
Cross-cultural approaches to transsexualism: a comparison between Sweden and Australia.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DyaL3M3gtlKrtQ%3D%3D&md5=19f451ceb7dc5440e8d0d85698c0d3fcCAS |

[4]  Veale J. Prevalence of transsexualism among New Zealand passport holders. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2008; 42 887–9.
Prevalence of transsexualism among New Zealand passport holders.CrossRef |

[5]  American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 5th edn. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. pp. 451–459.

[6]  Korte A, Lehmkuhl U, Goecker D, Beier KM, Krude H, Grüters-Kieslich A. Gender identity disorders in childhood and adolescence: currently debated concepts and treatment strategies. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2008; 105 834–41.

[7]  Zucker KJ, Bradley SJ. Gender identity disorder and psychosexual problems in children and adolescents. New York: The Guildford Press; 1995.

[8]  Zucker K, Wood H, Singh D, Bradley S. Developmental, biopsychosocial model for treatment of children with gender identity disorder. J Homosex 2012; 59 369–97.
Developmental, biopsychosocial model for treatment of children with gender identity disorder.CrossRef |

[9]  Butler J. VIC Premier Daniel Andrews commits to expanding Safe Schools Coalition in his State. Huffington Post, 12 April 2016. p. 00. Available online at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/04/12/daniel-andrews-safe-schools_n_9667136.html [verified 12 February 2017].

[10]  Safe Schools Coalition. All of Us: health and physical education resource – understanding gender diversity, sexual diversity and intersex topics for Years 7 and 8. Melbourne: Safe Schools Coalition Australia; 2015.

[11]  Mitchell A, Patrick K, Heywood W, Blackman P, Pitts M. 5th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society, La Trobe University; 2014.

[12]  Smith A, Agius P, Mitchell A, Barrett C, Pitts M. Secondary Students and Sexual Health 2008: results of the 4th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students. Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society, La Trobe University; 2009.

[13]  Richters J, Altman D, Badcock P, Smith A, de Visser R, Grulich A, Rissel C, Simpson J. Sexual identity, sexual attraction and sexual experience: The Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships. Sex Health 2014; 11 451–60.
Sexual identity, sexual attraction and sexual experience: The Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships.CrossRef |

[14]  Copen C, Chandra A, Febo-Vazquez I. Sexual behavior, sexual attraction, and sexual orientation among adults aged 18–44 in the United States: data from the 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth. National Health Statistics Reports, 88. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics; 2016.

[15]  Savin-Williams R, Ream G. Prevalence and stability of sexual orientation components during adolescence and young adulthood. Arch Sex Behav 2007; 36 385–94.
Prevalence and stability of sexual orientation components during adolescence and young adulthood.CrossRef |

[16]  Hu Y, Xu Y, Tornello S. Stability of self-reported same-sex and both-sex attraction from adolescence to young adulthood. Arch Sex Behav 2016; 45 651–9.
Stability of self-reported same-sex and both-sex attraction from adolescence to young adulthood.CrossRef |

[17]  Joloza T, Evans J, O’Brien R. Measuring sexual identity: an evaluation report. London: Office of National Statistics; 2010.

[18]  Ward B, Dahlhamer J, Galinsky A, Joestl S. Sexual orientation and health among US adults: National Health Institute Survey 2013. Natl Health Stat Rep 2014; 77 1–10.

[19]  Wooden M. The measurement of sexual identity in Wave 12 of the HILDA survey (and associations with mental health and earnings). Hilda Project Discussion Paper Series No. 1/14. Melbourne: University of Melbourne; 2014.

[20]  Twenge J, Sherman R, Wells B. Changes in American adults’ reported same-sex sexual experiences and attitudes, 1973–2014. Arch Sex Behav 2016; 45 1713–30.
Changes in American adults’ reported same-sex sexual experiences and attitudes, 1973–2014.CrossRef |

[21]  Clark TC, Fleming T, Bullen P, Denny S, Crengle S, Dyson B, Fortune S, Lucassen M, Peiris-John R, Robinson E, Rossen F, Sheridan J, Teevale T, Utter J. Youth’12 overview: the health and wellbeing of New Zealand secondary school students in 2012. Auckland: The University of Auckland; 2013.

[22]  Fan X, Miller B, Park K, Winward B, Christensen M, Grotevant H, Tai R. An exploratory study about inaccuracy and invalidity in adolescent self-report surveys. Field Methods 2006; 18 223–44.
An exploratory study about inaccuracy and invalidity in adolescent self-report surveys.CrossRef |

[23]  Savin-Williams R, Joyner K. The dubious assessment of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents of Add Health. Arch Sex Behav 2014; 43 413–22.
The dubious assessment of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adolescents of Add Health.CrossRef |

[24]  Ristori J, Steensma T. Gender dysphoria in childhood. Int Rev Psychiatry 2016; 28 13–20.
Gender dysphoria in childhood.CrossRef |

[25]  Flores A, Herman J, Gates G, Brown T. How many adults identify as transgender in the United States? (Los Angeles: Williams Institute, UCLA; 2016). Available online at http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/How-Many-Adults-Identify-as-Transgender-in-the-United-States.pdf [verified 12 February 2017].

[26]  Blackless M, Charuvastra A, Derryck A, Fausto-Sterling A, Lauzanne K, Lee E. How sexually dimorphic are we? Review and synthesis. Am J Hum Biol 2000; 12 151–66.
How sexually dimorphic are we? Review and synthesis.CrossRef |

[27]  Butler J. Performative acts and gender constitution: an essay in phenomenology and feminist theory. Theatre J 1988; 40 519–31.
Performative acts and gender constitution: an essay in phenomenology and feminist theory.CrossRef |

[28]  Safe Schools Transition. Guide to supporting a student to affirm or transition gender identity at school. 2015. Available online at: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/about/programs/health/GuideSupportingStudentAffirmTransition.pdf [verified 15 May 2017].

[29]  Wallien M, Cohen-Kettenis P. Psychosexual outcome of gender-dysphoric children. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2008; 47 1413–23.
Psychosexual outcome of gender-dysphoric children.CrossRef |

[30]  Leibowitz S, de Vries A. Gender dysphoria in adolescence. Int Rev Psychiatry 2016; 28 21–35.
Gender dysphoria in adolescence.CrossRef |

[31]  World Professional Association for Transgender Health. Standards of care for the health of transsexual, transgender, and gender nonconforming people (version 7). 2011. Available online at: www.wpath.org [verified 12 February 2017].

[32]  Whitehall J. Gender dysphoria and the fashion in child surgical abuse. Quadrant 2016; 60 23–33.

[33]  Australian Human Rights Coalition. Sexual orientation, gender identity & intersex status discrimination. 2013. Available online at: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/ourwork/sexual-orientation-sex-gender-identity/projects/new-protection [verified 12 February 2017].

[34]  Giami A, Beaubatie E. Gender identification and sex reassignment surgery in the trans population: a survey study in France. Arch Sex Behav 2014; 43 1491–501.
Gender identification and sex reassignment surgery in the trans population: a survey study in France.CrossRef |


Full Text PDF (122 KB) Export Citation Cited By (1)

View Altmetrics