OUTInPerth – Press Council says ‘The Australian’ breached standards in trans article

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This article was originally published by the OUTInPerth. You can find the original article here.

The Australian Press Council has found The Australian newspaper failed to meet expected standards of journalism with its reporting when it published an opinion piece from Patrick Parkinson, an emeritus professor of law at the University of Queensland and a former chair of the Family Law Council.

The article was published on 13 June 2023, headed Gender affirming’ care is destroying vulnerable kids in print and Why ‘gender affirming’ care is destroying our most vulnerable kids online.

The article is an opinion piece on what the columnist considers to be the controversies of gender affirming healthcare involving children and adolescents, describing it as a “public health crisis caused not by a virus, not by a disease, but by social contagion”.

The columnist said the notion that there are not just “two sexes, or that it is actually possible to change sex or be ‘non-binary’ …” has been embraced with enthusiasm by politicians, noting for example, the passing of “laws that allow people to falsify their birth certificates on the basis that they now feel as if they are a different sex to the one in which they were born”.

The columnist said “Other laws have been passed criminalising the work of therapists who try to help children, adolescents and adults become more comfortable with the only body they have” and that when the Family Court (Re: Kelvin) held that the prescription of cross-sex hormones to adolescents no longer required court approval if parents and doctors were in agreement, it “To a great extent … relied on the affidavit of one medical practitioner from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne” when it reached this decision.

The columnist also said that a “substantial portion” of children who identify as a gender other than their biological sex “are on the autism spectrum”; that “Without puberty blockers, the unequivocal research evidence is that most children resolve their gender identity issues before or while going through puberty” and that “After systematic reviews of the medical evidence, the treatment has been all but banned in Finland, Norway and Sweden outside of strictly controlled research programs.”

Acting on complaints about the article the Press Council asked the newspaper to consider if the article breached the standards that require them to ensure factual material is accurate and not misleading, and to ensure factual material is presented with reasonable fairness and balance and writers’ expressions of opinion are not based on significantly inaccurate factual material or omission of key facts.

The Council noted that the complaint had expressed concern that the statements regarding the falsification of birth certificates, that laws have been passed criminalising the work of therapists who try to help children, adolescents and adults become more comfortable with their body and that the Family Court relied on the affidavit of one medical practitioner from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne are without factual basis.

Similarly, the complaint noted that statements concerning autism and its links to gender dysphoria, that those who do not use puberty blockers, resolve their gender issues before or while going through puberty, and that gender affirming healthcare has been all but banned in Finland, Norway and Sweden, are without factual basis.

The council found that ‘The Australian’ had breached the standards multiple times. 

In regard to the comment that the “…passing of laws that allow people to falsify their birth certificates”, the Council said they did not accept that there is anything in the material relied on by the publication to substantiate this statement. The Council noted the word “falsify” suggested a level of criminality or deceit that had not been made out by any of the material relied on by the publication.

In relation to the comment concerning the criminalisation of therapists, the Council noted that by not specifically referring to the illegal practice of conversion therapy, the statement misleadingly and unfairly suggests that therapists could be prosecuted for providing therapeutic care. The Council said they did not consider there is anything in the material relied on by the publication to substantiate this statement.

The finding did however allow the comments about a link between autism and gender dysphoria and found that the comments about bans in Norway, Finland and Sweden were acceptable. In their report they did note that treatment still occurs in these countries but only in strictly controlled research settings.

The newspaper has now added a note to the online version of the article highlighting the finding from the Australian Press Council.

Previously in November 2023 the Press Council ruled The Australian had fallen short of expectations in relation to a report of a shooting in the USA where the perpetrator was a transgender person.  The Press Council found the reporting had over emphasised the gender identity of person concerned.

OIP Staff


This article was originally published by the OUTInPerth. You can find the original article here.

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