RANZCP rejects calls for Cass-style review in Australia


In response to a letter by a small number of anti-trans psychiatrists, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists has issued a statement reiterating its position that being trans or gender diverse is not a mental health condition, and it will not be calling on the government to implement an Australian Cass Review.

The letter from RANZCP members

Jillian Spencer, NAAPP president Phillip Morris, Melinda Hill, Alida Connell, Shannon Morton, Mary Jessop, Antony Davis, Peter Parry, Catherine Llewellyn, Ian Munt, Mani Rajagopalan, Laura Hamilton, Penny Brassey, Ainslie Haggitt, Andrew Amos, Michael Beech, and Suren Putter-Larem signed the letter, which called on the RANZCP to recognise the Cass Review’s relevance to Australian gender clinics, and to lobby the government for a Cass-style review in this country.

The letter states that the College is not accurately representing the concerns of psychiatrists who are critical of gender affirming treatment for trans and gender diverse children. It repeats the Cass Review’s findings that puberty blockers be restricted to medical trials, hormones be prescribed with extreme caution, and that social transition represents an active intervention.

Two of the letter’s authors, Jillian Spencer and Phillip Morris, have previously been outspoken on trans issues. Jillian Spencer, who was suspended from her position after a complaint was made by a trans patient, has appeared on the ABC as an opponent of gender affirming care. Phillip Morris has appeared on multiple platforms criticising paediatric gender services. His organisation, National Association of Practising Psychiatrists, is holding a webinar with Dr Cass next month.

The response

The reply, signed by the President of RANZCP Elizabeth Moore, firmly states that the RANZCP will not be calling on the government to institute its own review, but that it does support “the provision of consistent high-quality specialist care for people experiencing gender dysphoria.”

It goes on to say that “the College emphasises that assessment and treatment should be patient centred, evidence-informed and responsive to and supportive of the child or young person’s needs and that psychiatrists have a responsibility to counter stigma and discrimination directed towards trans and gender diverse people” and “being Trans or Gender Diverse is not a mental health condition, and the RANZCP unequivocally supports the rights of trans and gender diverse people to have equal access to safe and effective mental health care that is underpinned by dignity, empathy and respect.”

Psyched up

The letter follows speculation by The Australian newspaper, Family First, the Human Rights Law Alliance and the Australian Prayer Network that the RANZCP might be slowly coming around to an anti-trans position, especially in relation to trans children. RANZCP’s guidelines for working with trans and gender diverse people, updated in December 2023, acknowledge that several European countries have restricted or banned the use of puberty blockers, and mention detransition. It also defines sex as a biological reality, a fact that many organisations have erroneously seen as a sign of anti-trans sentiment.

However, Dr Moore’s rebuttal to the letter was a powerful refutation of the idea that trans healthcare is somehow extraordinary or harmful, and provides a clear statement on the College’s commitment to evidence-informed medicine.

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