Doctors are being inundated with up to 300 patients a year wanting to change their gender, including dozens under 18.
Dr Matt Barber, who prescribes cross sex hormones and puberty blockers to adults and children, said hundreds of transgender patients visited him at Stonewall Medical Centre in Brisbane each year.
Dr Barber follows ‘gender affirming care’ – which is promoted on federal government website Health Direct and advises health professionals that it is wrong not to support a patient’s desires to transition.
He believes that ‘patients are experts in their own body’ and when it comes to gender identity, the ‘doctor’s role is to inform and help them understand their decisions’.
Dr Matt Barber (pictured) says he sees up to 300 patients a year seeking cross sex hormone therapy or puberty blockers
‘The vast majority of GPs in Australia have little understanding in this space, which is why people seek out “gender affirming” doctors,’ he told The Daily Telegraph.
Trans patients exchange advice online about where to find GPs willing to prescribe hormones quickly and how to ask for them.
But mental health professionals raised concerns about Australia’s more relaxed approach to medical and surgical interventions compared to other countries.
In a post on Reddit, one person said they were given a script for ‘gender affirming’ drugs after a brief visit to a walk-in clinic in Queensland.
‘[It took] about 30 minutes for the informed consent and prescription, and another 15-20 minutes for the pharmacy next door to fill it,’ they wrote.
In the UK, doctors are bound by new national guidelines, which swapped the gender-affirming model for youth in favour of exploring mental health issues.
But in Australia, Dr Barber said doctors were free to operate under their own opinion and beliefs and in straightforward cases he was happy to prescribe hormones in just two sessions.
He said almost all of his annual patients – of which about 10 per cent were under 18 – are neurodivergent, having been diagnosed with autism or ADHD – which is a pattern that has been observed globally.
Dr Baker, who uses the gender affirming care, said he typically sees eight to ten new patients a week at Stonewall Medical Centre (pictured)
‘It makes sense that people with autism are more likely to experience gender diversity because they are neuro atypical,’ Dr Barber said.
‘Gender diversity is similar in that way as they are gender atypical.’
Dr Barker said he saw eight to 10 new trans patients at the clinic in Windsor each week, with the initial consultation starting with a discussion on gender dysphoria before moving on to the risks and benefits of hormone therapy.
Teenagers aged 14 to 16 years require parental consent to commence therapy, but those aged 16 to 18 are able to make the decision themselves.
Dr Barker said the rate of people regretting the decision to take gender affirming drugs is ‘almost zero’, with most of his young patients waiting until they were 18 to proceed with cross sex hormones.
He said those who made the decision tend to have a ‘universally positive experience’ and had improved mental health.
Lists of ‘gender affirming’ doctors were being shared on government platforms to allow trans patients to seek out practitioners using the health model.
According to Health Direct, people with gender dysphoria – distress or unease in their biological sex – ‘need to get gender affirming care’.
‘Delays in this can make symptoms worse and lead to further declines in your mental health and wellbeing,’ it reads.
Leuprorelin (Lucrin) is a medication used to suppress testosterone levels
However, some mental health professionals believe the government’s should adopt a more cautious position towards medical interventions for transgender patients.
Psychologist Roberto D’Angelo said he worked with several people who transitioned when they were young, only to regret it years later.
Mental health professionals do not need to be involved in the medical intervention process for many adults, but trans children need to be assessed by mental health specialists first.
Dr D’Angelo said some kids only had six sessions before beginning treatment, and many of them struggled with other issues – like social anxiety or family dysfunction – and thought changing their identity would help.
One patient he worked with identified as male and had a mastectomy, hysterectomy, and ovary removal – only to regret it two years later.
He said she felt worse after the surgery and, after realising she had made the decision based on other factors in her life at the time, she is now identifying as a woman.
Jay Langadinos (pictured) claimed the surgeries gave her ‘injuries and disabilities’
Daily Mail Australia has contacted LGBTI health organisation ACON for comment.
The revelations come just months after a woman who transitioned to a man sued her psychiatrist after he approved hormone therapy after only seeing her for a single appointment.
Jay Langadinos filed suit in the NSW Supreme Court in August alleging she suffered ‘injuries and disabilities’ after Dr Patrick Toohey ruled she had gender dysphoria and signed off on her getting treatment.
She claimed she met psychiatrist Dr Toohey on May 7, 2010, when she was 19 after telling a doctor she ‘always felt she was a boy rather than a girl’.
She claims he signed off on hormone therapy and later approved surgeries to remove her breasts and womb as part of the transition.
Ms Langadinos, now 31, claimed Dr Toohey’s recommendation was made despite him admitting she had social phobia and didn’t know that ‘psychological factors could influence the outcome of gender transition’.
She alleges the surgeries gave her ‘injuries and disabilities’ and is suing him for professional negligence, claiming he failed to take the necessary precautions over her transition.
Dr Toohey’s office previously declined to comment when approached by Daily Mail Australia.
The case remains before the courts.