Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Coleman Hughes on The Health Dilemma of Trans Children with Michelle Telfer

Welcome to another episode of conversations with Coleman. My guest today is Michelle Telfer. Michelle is an Australian Paediatrician and Head of the Gender clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. She’s the lead author of the Australian Standards of Care and Treatment Guidelines for trans children, and she is also a former Olympic gymnast. In this episode, we talk about gender dysphoria, particularly in children and adolescents. We also talk about the difference between puberty blockers, hormone therapy, and surgery as well as the complications of all three. As I say to Michelle, the size of my podcast audience basically guarantees that someone listening is either trans themselves or the parent of a trans kid. Therefore I hope this episode is useful to them as well as interesting to everyone else. I’m especially concerned about the process by which it’s decided that a young person should undergo irreversible medical operations. Michelle is very much on the inside of this process, and I came away pleasantly surprised by the degree of rigor at her clinic. There are two ways to mess this up. First, by making it too easy for teens and preteens to make irreversible changes to their bodies, thereby guaranteeing that some of them will forever live with regrets. Second, by making it too difficult for trans kids to make the kinds of changes that will give them a shot at happiness. That’s the tightrope we have to walk on this issue and from what I can tell Michelle is successfully walking it.

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