Is this fraud?
Senator urges inquiry into Australia's testosterone-for-females scandal
Australia’s Senator Claire Chandler has called for an urgent investigation into the practice of transgender-identifying girls and young women being given taxpayer-funded testosterone as if they suffer from a “testicular disorder”.
“One of the questions that should be investigated is whether taxpayers are being defrauded,” the centre-right Liberal Party member said in her Wednesday night speech in Australia’s federal Senate.
“This [prescribing of subsidised testosterone for females] is occurring at a time when more and more detransitioners are speaking out about the devastating lifelong impacts of these [hormonal] drugs, and the dangerous mastectomies and genital surgeries which often follow.
“How can the medical profession claim to be fully informing distressed young patients about the drugs they are told will help their gender dysphoria, when those same doctors are simultaneously telling medical authorities they’re prescribing the drugs to treat testicular disorders.”
In 2015, at the behest of an LGBTIQ+ lobby, Australia’s federal government did away with the rule that only males could access taxpayer-subsidised testosterone treatment for the condition “androgen deficiency due to an established testicular disorder”. The change seems to have been made without any scrutiny of the safety of exposing females to this powerful drug.
Video: ‘Is it any wonder that medical insurers are starting to worry about the inevitable lawsuits and medical malpractice scandals.’—Senator Claire Chandler
In her speech, Senator Chandler cited “shocking health department data”—published by GCN—showing that more than 1,400 girls and young women in Australia started taking taxpayer-subsidised testosterone last year supposedly to treat the male disorder of androgen deficiency, which is typically caused by the testicles not doing their job.
Gender clinicians use this prescribing practice because there is no subsidised testosterone for gender dysphoria or gender incongruence under Australia’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
Like puberty blocker drugs, opposite-sex hormones for patients who identify as trans or non-binary are off-label, meaning they are not approved for that purpose by the regulator charged with ensuring the safety of such treatments.
Although a new advocacy group of family doctors has discussed plans to pursue a new PBS listing to authorise testosterone for gender incongruence, there are no such current applications, according to a spokesman for the Department of Health and Aged Care.
“The Research Institute for Gender Therapeutics was founded earlier this year [in the US] with the mission of obtaining approval [from the Food and Drug Administration] for gender-affirming hormones, which are currently prescribed to patients off-label without an explicit approval for trans healthcare.”—news report, STAT, 28 November 2023
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A dose of lobbying
Senator Chandler highlighted the role of lobby groups, such as the former gay rights organisation turned trans activist lobby, ACON, in promoting the prescribing practice whereby females are claimed to suffer from a male medical condition.
“The ‘testicular disorder’ PBS loophole is being recommended to young people and doctors by the lobby group ACON on its TransHub website, alongside a list of gender-affirming doctors and a template letter for a patient to hand to their doctor to ask for hormones,” she said.
TransHub argues that obtaining PBS-funded testosterone for biological females is legitimate “since bodies presumed female at birth don’t naturally produce enough testosterone on their own.”
The website makes multiple references to a 2019 position statement—published by the Medical Journal of Australia—which advises clinicians on “Hormonal Management of Adult Transgender and Gender-Diverse Individuals”.
For example, TransHub cites the statement’s recommendation that clinicians treating female patients target “trough total testosterone levels in the lower end of the male reference interval (10-15 nmol/L)”.
However, Senator Chandler noted that TransHub fails to acknowledge that the position statement rated this recommendation as “weak” and based on the lowest possible quality of evidence.
The senator also raised the potential conflict of interest when government agencies—including the federal Department of Health and Aged Care—are paid members of ACON’s Pride in Diversity scheme known as the Australian Workplace Equality Index.
This scheme in which employers pay for training and compete to adopt pronouns, gender-neutral toilets and other trappings of gender identity ideology was based on the Diversity Champions program of the UK trans activist lobby Stonewall, another former gay rights body.
Since 2021, a raft of UK institutions—including several government departments, the BBC and the media regulator Ofcom—withdrew from the Stonewall program, following concern that it gave the lobby undue influence over policy.
The UK Department of Health ended its membership amid a dispute over single-sex hospital wards. Australia’s Department of Health and Aged Care was rated as a “silver employer” in ACON’s 2022 diversity awards. Public broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, were gold employers last year.
In 2020, following the Family Court ruling in the re Imogen case, TransHub had to abandon its public legal advice that trans-identifying youth aged 16-17 could access opposite-sex hormones using the fast-track “informed consent” model, with no mental health evaluation and without the clinician checking whether or not parents consent.
In the ruling, Justice Garry Watts cited evidence that ACON “has essentially condoned this [informed consent] model and sets 16 years of age as being the threshold for autonomous consent to hormone treatment, overriding any parental objections or misgivings.”
The “clinical wisdom and legal standing of this approach” were in question, the judge noted.
GCN has sought comment from federal Health Minister Mark Butler, Government Services Minister Bill Shorten, the Department of Health and Aged Care, and ACON.