“There are more than enough red flags for [youth gender medicine] to be put on pause, for the sake of getting it right — because these are actually children at stake,” says Moira Deeming, an Australian teacher turned politician.
“I don't think it’s healthy to tell children that they can change sex, or that their feelings on what sex they are, are the thing that they should affirm, rather than their biology, because which thing is going to leave you healthier in the long run?”
Deeming’s timing seems spot on. Right now, there is ample international coverage of the rush to medicalisation at the world’s largest youth gender clinic, the London-based Tavistock centre; BBC journalist Hannah Barnes tells the story in her new book Time to Think.
Even Australia’s public broadcaster, the ABC, has aired a thoughtful interview with Barnes; this is a departure from the ABC’s history of uncritically showcasing gender medicine for “trans kids” and ignoring the risks.
The New York Times, for years a bastion of “no debate” on trans issues, has just defied an attempt by activists to shut down balanced reporting of the live controversy over medicalised gender change for minors. The United States also has its first gender clinic whistleblower.
And a new investigation by the British Medical Journal has exposed the shallow evidence base that lies beneath the overconfident treatment advice from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and the Endocrine Society, two organisations often cited as authorities on gender medicine.
In her home state of Victoria, Deeming wants to see an inquiry into youth gender medicine. “It has to be genuine, it has to be real, it has to be open, and it has to go for six months, a year, whatever [it takes],” she tells GCN.
But Victoria is also home to Australia’s largest and most influential gender clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, where new patient referrals have multiplied a hundredfold over the decade since 2011.
This clinic, promoted as “life saving”, can count on moral and financial support from the dogmatically progressive state Labor government of Daniel Andrews. He has been premier for almost ten years and has seen off a laundry list of opposition leaders from the Liberal Party, whose inner turmoil makes good copy for local media.
Last week, in this challenging context, Deeming used her maiden speech as a Liberal member of Victoria’s upper house to call for “an open inquiry into gender-affirmation practices” involving minors. She described these hormonal and surgical interventions as “medically unjustifiable, irreversible and devastatingly harmful.”
“[Yet] ideologues continue to vilify and incite hatred towards anyone sounding the alarm.”
Deeming is a political rarity, having been elected on a de facto platform of opposition to poorly evidenced gender medicine and an insistence on reclaiming the sex-based rights of women and girls.
Sure enough, the leader of Victoria’s Greens, Samantha Ratnam, took to Twitter to condemn the maiden speech as “transphobic”, without explaining what that term meant, while Premier Andrews talked about how he wouldn’t dignify Deeming’s views by talking about them.
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Video: Moira Deeming delivers her maiden speech in Victoria’s Legislative Council
Lining up ducks
Afterwards, in her modest office tucked away behind the imperial facade of Victoria’s 19th century parliament house, Deeming says she knows that any plea for an inquiry into gender clinics in Victoria faces “huge political obstacles”, but she is going to make the attempt anyway.
“I’ll be trying to build a case, I’ll be getting all my ducks in a row,” she tells GCN.
In the corridors of the legislature, she is congratulated for her speech by fellow politicians, some of whom would probably smile awkwardly and mouth progressive slogans if interrogated by a journalist on the hot topic of anything trans.
Deeming says she’s had an outpouring of public support since her speech — which traversed a range of issues — with hundreds of emails, phone calls, texts and social media messages.
Some lightly edited examples:
Thank you for your courage in speaking up against the extremes of trans ideology. My family, like many, has been adversely affected by this insidious, misogynistic, child-harming belief system. Please do not stop. The silent majority are behind you.
God help any “tomboy” little girl who goes through Victorian schools.
As the father of a young daughter, I am extremely anxious about the infiltration of radical postmodernist theories on race and gender into our public and private institutions, including our schools and even the medical profession. Ever since I read Abigail Shrier’s book Irreversible Damage, I have come to regard unquestioning gender-affirmative ‘care’ as a form of child abuse and a grotesque form of conversion therapy for young gay children by people who ought to know better. It is somewhat heartening to know that at least one member of parliament is awake to these issues.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for standing up for our children.
It takes courage to speak in the manner that you did, and please keep up the great work on social values, as I worry about what my almost 4-year-old son will have to deal with at school and in the community as he gets older.
Just listened to your maiden speech — absolutely brilliant! Little did I know we share so much in common: working-class background; Labor-voting union parents; Catholic stock; married father of four. I’m sure glad you’re our representative.
I know you will be endlessly vilified — you have already experienced that — but that is clearly part of your calling, and you speak for perhaps more than you know. You speak for me, who has generally been softly pink politically most of my life. Thank you again.
Deeming was also sent a message of support from a group of “ROGD mums” — a reference to “rapid onset gender dysphoria”, the term used by American researcher Dr Lisa Littman to describe the trend for teenagers, chiefly girls, to suddenly declare a trans identity and seek medical treatment.
Gender medicine is progressive science, we are told, which supposedly means that any scepticism or criticism comes only from conservative religionists. This is one reason why Deeming is a favourite target; she is Christian, and the Liberals are nominal conservatives, if you ignore their classical liberal ancestry.
But Deeming’s family background reveals a Labor, trade-unionist pedigree, the kind that made for understandable grassroots politics before a hyper-educated progressive elite began to rule from above. She represents the mortgage belt of Melbourne’s western suburbs, where gender theory is perhaps not top of mind.
“I don’t know who these people are running the Labor Party, but they are alien compared to the ordinary voters,” she tells GCN. “Ordinary Labor voters care about this [medicalisation of children and female rights] just as much as me.”
And in the public gallery last week, those clapping and cheering her maiden speech were a snapshot of the unlikely and little-reported alliance that has formed out of alarm at the vague but all-conquering concept of “gender identity” and its medically assisted trans and non-binary identities.
It’s far from a simple Left-Right divide.
Centre-right moderates are among those who ignore the international debate about youth gender clinics, while the unprecedented coalition for caution includes feminists, the non-woke Left, detransitioners, conservatives, often-cowed health professionals and teachers, non-Queer Theory LGB people, the religious, self-described “transsexuals” insistent that medical transition is not for minors, plus normies not easily pigeon-holed.
Deeming’s gender education goes back years to radical-feminist Facebook pages, and to her struggle as a high-school teacher and mother to understand the implications of gender ideology in the curriculum and trans-inclusion policies handed down from on high by bureaucrats.
“It makes no sense. It’s internally incoherent. You know, it’s nice for them to write these policies. It’s me in front of the kids looking like an idiot — they’re going to say, this makes no sense, miss. How can you feel like a girl?”
Now common teaching materials present a spectrum of masculine and feminine characteristics, but it seemed to Deeming these were the stereotypes we were supposed to have outgrown.
“And I was like, I’m not telling my kids that aren’t like G.I. Joe, that they might not actually be a boy, that is not coming out of my mouth,” she says.
“And I’m not telling those girls who are tall and strong and amazing and good at sport that they might not be a legitimate girl. I thought we all agreed that [sex-role stereotypes] were bad.”
Yet teachers are being told that they may enable social transition to an opposite-sex role for students as young as 12, without parental knowledge or approval, if the child is deemed to be “a mature minor”.
This is the message of a resource available nationally through the federally funded Student Wellbeing Hub. It derives from Victoria, where “Safe Schools” classroom material and a program of school visits by doctors are linked to the rapidly expanding RCH gender clinic.
Internationally, there is growing concern that gender ideology in schools creates a pipeline to gender clinic medicalisation. Early social transition is increasingly seen as a quasi-clinical intervention that may lock-in gender distress and put a child on the path to medicalisation.
Victoria has created a vertically integrated system from classroom to clinic, such that Deeming decided she could no longer teach in good conscience.
“I did not want to be involved in telling a child that [medicalised gender change] was good. I didn’t want to be involved in confusing a child. I didn’t want to be involved in lying to parents,” she says.
“I felt like I was being used by the government to push an ideology behind parents’ backs, which was not anywhere near close to being harmless.”
Resiling from resilience
Policy badged “inclusive” — policy telling trans-identifying kids that they are everywhere besieged by transphobic bigotry — seemed totally at odds with healthy messages of resilience and open-minded engagement across boundaries of disagreement.
Deeming was struck by the arrival of the world “ally” in the classroom — as in, LGBTQI+ ally.
“What if you’re not an ally? What are you, an enemy? And I thought, this is so divisive, and why are you telling [trans-identified kids] that people hate them? Just because they disagree with them?
“I was always at pains to say [in class] that just because people don’t agree with you, doesn’t mean they hate you. Don’t assume that, you’ll just be a paranoid miserable person.”
In the same way she made sure no gay kids got bullied at school, Deeming encouraged “relationship building”. If a disagreement did seem to involve bigotry, her advice was, “Don’t panic, you might be able to win them over, there might be a way to build a relationship.”
Alert to unnecessary division, Deeming came to see a distinction between gay kids and the trans rights narrative. With gay kids, the educational and pastoral task, including acceptance of a healthy body, was not markedly different from what everybody else needed.
“But trans involves making other people say things they clearly don’t believe, things they are not comfortable with.”
She had thought there might be a middle course, to help other kids come to a compassionate understanding of a classmate with the distress of gender dysphoria, but without requiring everyone else to use wrong-sex pronouns and to profess that a boy who identifies as a girl is in truth a girl — just as non-religious kids would not be required to intone prayers.
And Deeming believes the compulsion built into official trans-inclusion policies is in fact damaging for those students it claims to help and protect. The coercion will be resented by others, even if they feel they cannot speak out, and it will change the group dynamic in an unfortunate way.
“I’ve seen this happen at school — because [others] are terrified of offending [the trans-identifying child], they exclude them. It’s not a deliberate exclusion. It’s almost like a withdrawal — a withdrawal from this child, because this child has been told, you have the right to demand all these things from everybody else. And the reality is that [other students] won’t put up with it.
“It’s self-defeating, because that’s not how any relationship works.”
Deeming says this trans entitlement seemed “so counterproductive and unhealthy on every conceivable level that I could think of.”
She still hears from girls, former students, furious at the compelled beliefs of trans inclusion.
“I just can’t tell you how upset the girls are, being told to call a boy a girl, and that their boundaries don’t matter. They are so angry. People don’t know this.”
Deeming says it has nothing to do with gender dysphoric or trans-identifying kids, and everything to do with the idea of self-declared gender identity inimical to safeguarding and wide open to exploitation by that small but perennial group of males who might do harm to females.
Alert to predators
“I was badly sexually harassed by a teacher in Year 10 [when I was aged 16],” Deeming says. He followed her around, made suggestive marks, and once hugged her.
“My dad was a teacher, and so I was comparing him to my dad as a teacher. The worst bit was when he hugged me.
“I wasn’t eating, I was just sleeping all the time, I wouldn’t let my dad hug me.
“One morning [my dad] asked me, what’s happened? And I said, would you ever hug a student? And he said, absolutely not, because then [students] won’t know the difference between a good man and a bad man.
“Seven years later, [that teacher] went to jail for having sex with other girls. I was not the first and I was not the last, I was just one that he didn’t actually get anywhere with, because I was able to compare him to a good man, my father.”
Deeming sees an opening for predatory teachers in the Queer Theory-influenced sex education now seemingly on the increase in Anglophone countries. She believes this explicit and personally intrusive material offers a pretext for transgressing the boundaries of minors.
“Girls wouldn’t be allowed to complain any more. Some teacher could say, I was just giving them this whole-school sex positivity stuff.”
Likewise, Deeming felt that Victoria-style trans-inclusion based on self-identified gender would break down the protective boundaries of single-sex spaces for girls and women, such as school bathrooms, public change rooms and female-only prisons.
“I knew straight away that I would be faced with my beautiful girls saying, don’t let him in here, miss. And I was going be the one that lost my job [if I challenged a male in a female space].
“If I took my daughter to a pool and went to the change room, and a man came and took off all his clothes in front of her, I had lost the right to call the police or complain.
“I had lost every right to have a boundary. And I couldn’t protect my students. I just couldn’t believe that the government would make such heinous laws.”
Gender Clinic News is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Great piece, Bernard. Excellent subject matter of course, but you've done a brilliant job of showing just how reasonable Deeming is, and why the work she's doing is so urgent
The public airing of insight and common sense as it relates to the invasive, irreversible and mutilation of ‘transition’ of minors and young people from a politician is a rarity but is so important regardless of the cost.
If only there were more.
Ms Deeming you are a national treasure!