Sanity has prevailed in the case of a gender dysphoric child currently before the Family Court, with the judge allowing evidence from an expert who believes that rates of gender dysphoria are on the rise due to social contagion.

The decision was reported last week in The Australian, though the identities of the child, both parents and the expert in question remain anonymous. The case is being heard by Justice Suzanne Christie.

The expert, who “does not adhere to the ‘gender-affirming care’ model”, is being allowed to give evidence in the case in hopes of breaking a stalemate between the parents, who remain divided over whether their eldest child should undergo “gender transition” — or even whether the trial should hear more than one medical perspective on gender dysphoria.

A ‘Commendable and Pragmatic’ Outcome

As reported by The Australian:

Earlier this month, one parent attempted to block an application for a medical expert who opposes medically affirming a child’s chosen gender identity to give evidence in the proceedings. The parent did not want the expert, known as F, to give evidence because they deemed it potentially “hurtful or otherwise psychologically damaging”.

However, the child at the centre of the case expressed a willingness to meet with the expert as part of the process, a decision that Justice Christie called “commendable and pragmatic”.

In her judgment, Justice Christie wrote,

“I accept that the process may still be confronting. I am not convinced it is likely to be psychologically damaging. These are important life-changing issues which require analysis, discussion, evaluation, re-evaluation and assessment. The issues are, by their very nature, confronting… and difficult.”

Justice Christie has allowed the expert to prepare a report for the court to consider as evidence. She did, however, decline evidence in the case from a volunteer group that promotes women’s gender-based rights and opposes medical interventions aimed at “gender reassignment”.

According to The Australian, “The case comes as the Family Court of Australia continues to grapple with the complexities of gender identity, especially in the context of children, medication and surgery.”

The Role of Social Contagion in Gender Dysphoric Children

Social contagion is increasingly being recognised as a factor behind the unprecedented spike in gender dysphoria among children and teenagers. Writing for Quilette, University of Missouri Psychology Professor David C. Geary has warned:

The combination of the current social fixation on transgender issues, the availability of easily accessible information that supports the adoption of a transgender identity (e.g., to explain discomfort with normal physical changes during puberty), and the broad approach to provide social support and affirmation unconditionally make for a perfect storm.

This storm is likely to seize individuals who are struggling with social and emotional issues and looking for a social support network that will help them understand and cope with these issues.

He adds:

In fact, zeal for providing unflinching support and affirmation of those with a transgender or related identity has created an environment that can be very attractive to young people, especially those who are troubled or isolated.

The attraction may be especially great for adolescents and young adults, in particular girls and women who are seeking this type of support, affirmation, and a ready-made explanation for social and psychological struggles that are common during this period of life.

The demolition of guard rails that protected against unnecessary treatments and surgeries in the past means that some currently unknown percentage of these adolescents and young adults who are being drawn to transgender and related identities will undergo unnecessary and harmful medical treatments. One result will be an increase in detransitioning and regret, as we are beginning to see.

The Role of Parents in Gender Dysphoric Children

Another factor coming under increased scrutiny in cases of childhood gender dysphoria is the role played by one or more attention-seeking parents.

According to investigative reporter Darlene McCormick Sanchez:

“Transhausen by proxy,” a term coined for narcissistic parents who push so-called “gender transitioning” on their children, may be playing a role in the sudden rise of transgender children, some experts say.

Celebrities are increasingly in the limelight with announcements about their children who come out as transgender or nonbinary…

“Transhausen by proxy” isn’t an officially recognized psychological condition; it’s a play on an official condition known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP). MSBP is a mental illness that’s also sometimes called medical child abuse or factitious disorder imposed on others. It’s exhibited mostly by women seeking attention by exaggerating or making up an illness of children or others in their care.

It is unclear whether “Transhausen by proxy” is a factor in the family whose case is before the Family Court. However, that one of the parents wants to block evidence from experts who urge caution on “gender transition” raises such a possibility.

The case will be heard at the end of March.


Photo by Towfiqu Barbhuiya.

About the Author: Kurt Mahlburg

Kurt Mahlburg is Canberra Declaration's Research and Features Editor. He hosts his own blog at Cross + Culture and is also a contributor at the Spectator Australia, MercatorNet, Caldron Pool and The Good Sauce. Kurt is also a published author. His book Cross and Culture: Can Jesus Save the West? provides a rigorous analysis of the modern malaise in Western society and how Jesus provides the answer to the challenges before us. Kurt has a particular interest in speaking the truths of Jesus into the public square in a way that makes sense to a secular culture and that gives Christians courage to do the same. Kurt has also studied architecture, has lived for two years in remote South-East Asia, and among his other interests are philosophy, history, surf, the outdoors, and travel. He is married to Angie.

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