A 4-year-old child in Australia has begun the process of having a sex change with financial assistance from the New South Wales Department of Education even though the child hasn't yet started kindergarten. Many critics are warning the government that the child is too young to make such consequential life decisions.
According to the Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph, the NSW Department of Education has revealed that the child is the youngest person in the country to be in the process of transitioning genders for eventual gender reassignment.
Although the child has yet to even begin first day at kindergarten, the NSW education department will assist the child and the family by using funds from the the department's Safe School program.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the case of the 4-year-old came to light during a hearing on state government budget estimates, which focused on the Safe Schools program.
NSW deputy secretary of school operations Gregory Prior said during the hearing that there are "a number of students who are going through gender transition in our schools, with the youngest being a 4 year old at the moment."
"Without breaching privacy, we have a 4 year old who is transitioning to kindergarten next year who has identified as transgender," Prior said. "The Safe Schools is only one resource that can be used from a variety of resources in how we would support that family, student and school to accommodate a child going through transition."
The education department did not disclose any personal details about the 4-year-old's case, such as which gender he or she is transitioning to. But according to Yahoo, the child is hoping to complete the gender transition by 2017.
The school district has received some criticism over its decision to support the gender transition of such a young child. Criticism has even come from people who would consider themselves to be pro-LGBT.
Australian transgender rights advocate Catherine McGregor, who has spoken out in the past about the radical left-wing agenda of the Safe Schools program, told The Daily Telegraph that she is surprised by the news and said that there needs to be checks in place to make sure no premature mistakes are made that would haunt the children for the rest of their lives.
"I would have thought 4 is pretty young for any official policy support," she said.
"In my experience, kids with strong cross-gender identification tend to get it right," she added. "However, I can understand there would be caution on the part of the department and medical practitioners on making any irreversible decisions at that stage."
Susan Palmer, a lesbian pastor at the pro-LGBT Open Door Community of Christ in Cranebrook, told The Daily Telegraph that parents and adults need to be more cautious and not push children to make these decisions this early in their lives.
"It seems to be true and seems to be the case from those I've met who have transitioned, they've known very early in life that something is not right and it's like their mind and body don't match," Ms Palmer said. "But it is really important for children to have that freedom to explore for themselves, rather than have people push them."
"A child is heavily influenced by their caregivers, their parents and I know parents can be overly concerned and overly supportive either way and can actually coerce or influence children when what they are doing is just exploring something which is not somewhere they actually want to be heading," she continued.
Hospitals in Australia have reported increases in the number of children being referred for gender dysphoria.
Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg told the Daily Telegraph that as many as 250 children as young as 3 years old are being helped by the gender dysphoria unit at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital. By comparison, he added that there was just one child being assisted for gender dysphoria issues at the hospital just a decade ago.
According to a doctor at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, referrals for gender services have tripled in recent years and have "escalated rapidly" across every state.
In a report published in August, the American College of Pediatricians stated that using public education and legal policies to "endorse gender discordance as normal" will lead to more children turning to "gender clinics," where they will be given puberty-blocking drugs."
"This, in turn, virtually ensures that they will 'choose' a lifetime of carcinogenic and otherwise toxic cross-sex hormones, and likely consider unnecessary surgical mutilation of their healthy body parts as young adults," the report stated.
A recent report published by two scholars from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland argued that there is not enough scientific evidence to claim that transgender children are born that way. Additionally, the report argues that it is immoral for adults to condition transgender children to believe that they are actually members of the opposite biological sex and to push them into receiving hormone treatment.
The report cited the fifth edition of American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in its effort to prove that gender dysphoria in children does not often persist into adulthood.
"In natal [biological] males, persistence [of gender dysphoria] has ranged from 2.2 to 30 percent," the report explains. "In natal females, persistence has ranged from 12 to 50 percent. Scientific data on persistence of gender dysphoria remains sparse due to the very low prevalence of the disorder in the general population, but the wide range of findings in the literature suggests that there is still much that we do not know about why gender dysphoria persists or desists in children."