Thanks, Bernard Lane!

Please tweet this article with the hashtag #thankyouBernardLane and @Bernard_Lane.

Journalist Bernard Lane has been a rare champion for gender-questioning kids in the Australian media landscape. Unlike most other journalists and media outlets  – including the national broadcaster the ABC, which is legally mandated to provide balanced coverage – he tackles the difficult questions in this complex area. Writing for The Australian newspaper, he has penned multiple articles on topics around gender-questioning kids that no other journalist is brave enough to touch in Australia. These include the lack of an evidence base for the commonly used medical interventions, the reasons for the skyrocketing numbers of gender-questioning teens, legal issues, court cases, the concerns of parents, and calls for a national enquiry.

This activity has led to him being attacked by sections of the media as well as those advocating for the medicalization of gender-questioning kids. It has also brought him to the attention of the Australian Press Council (APC). A complaint about his coverage was lodged by the head of an Australian gender clinic, Dr. Michelle Telfer.

The APC ruling dismissed many aspects of the complaint. The main adverse finding was that the APC upheld the view that there was not fairness and balance in the reporting. We parents would counter that Bernard is the ONLY journalist in Australia who has consistently called for caution and scrutiny of the medicalization of gender-questioning kids and is attempting to balance the constant stream of one-sided, inaccurate reporting from multiple other media outlets in Australia on this issue.  

We also note the irony that, whilst accusing Bernard Lane of inaccurate reporting, the complaint in fact provides quite a bit of incorrect information. For example, it claims that medicalization of trans-identifying kids is not experimental (contradicting the findings  of numerous comprehensive evidence reviews, as well as the UK High Court), and also states that social contagion is “a discredited theory” (we parents do not need studies to prove what we are seeing with our own eyes).

This incident illustrates clearly the adverse consequences of speaking out on this issue, the difficulty in getting the basic facts into the public realm, and the forces working to prevent any sort of open discussion and debate. We parents are certainly aware of this, which is why most of us are forced to remain anonymous and rely on Genspect to speak for us.

As The Australian newspaper commented in their editorial (behind a paywall) about the ruling this week:

“It is possible to conclude that the complaint made to the APC (Australian Press Council) is another example of the cancel culture tactics used to stifle debate…..”

Pleasingly, however, they conclude:

“We will never stop asking questions that hold those in positions of authority to account. This is particularly so when the health and wellbeing of vulnerable children are at stake.”

Bernard Lane took to Twitter to also comment on the ruling. Here is an excerpt from his thread:

“I still worry that teens, parents, teachers & health workers will be told very little about the global debate over gender clinics. Not only in Australia, many media outlets that identify as “progressive” choose not to report this rapidly unfolding story.“

We parents hope and expect to see plenty more excellent reporting by Bernard Lane on these issues.

To Michelle Telfer, we say this: Your “discredited theory” is the “lived experience” of our families. Our testimonies are “valid.” Show some basic common courtesy and stop trying to “erase” us. Our voices are increasingly being heard – through interviews, podcasts, written testimonies, and the work of Genspect. Around the world, there are thousands of us. Our numbers are growing, and we are NOT going to go away. 

This post was cowritten by a group of Australian Genspect parents.

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