Topics include whether gender therapies are experimental and harmful, whether there is evidence behind the affirmation-only approach, whether the law requires someone to accept a child's gender identity, a feminist critique of transgender ideology, and information about the advocacy behind the transgender movement.
According to Mathieson, the Christian approach sees the human person as "a unity of body, mind and spirit" which "provides a rich depth of understanding of the human condition that respects the unique dignity of each of human being."
This understanding "has informed the practice of good medicine for millennia," Mathieson said, and challenges "the prevailing materialistic or dualist understanding of the human person."
A backgrounder for the conference notes the Victorian legislature's consideration of a ban on "conversion therapy" as regards sexual orientation and gender identity. The Queensland government attempted to enact such legislation on the Christmas holidays "with as little scrutiny as possible."
"In the end they were unsuccessful," the backgrounder said. The proposed legislation defined conversion therapy as "a treatment or other practice that attempts to change or suppress a person's sexual orientation or gender identity."
The medical association said the wording of "conversion therapy" is "an emotive Trojan horse" that will introduce transgender ideology into law and seek to enforce health workers to participate in and endorse "gender identity affirming strategies" such as puberty-blocking drugs and surgery even in the case of children and adolescents.
"If such laws are enacted they will effectively outlaw the traditional Hippocratic and Christian anthropological approach to health and psychology," the backgrounder continued.
"There is also a concern that if such legislation is enacted even conferences critical of the 'gender affirming model,' such as ours, may not be permitted by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, our medical licensing body, due to the transgression of 'professional standards and expectations' and by bringing the profession into disrepute. This is not an exaggeration."
"Therefore, we believe it is paramount that we publicly articulate the issues and problems concerning this important matter, which we believe has profound implications for healthcare and the care of children generally," the Australian Catholic Medical Association's backgrounder said.
Mathieson cited the Queensland Health and Other Legislation Amendments Bill, which would require affirmation of gender identity and sexual orientation.
"Parliament in the state of Queensland recently sought to enforce 'affirmation only therapy' for children on all health workers," he said. "Dissident practitioners would have faced an 18 month prison term for failing to abide by the state decrees in managing gender dysphoric children."
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Whitehall, one of the conference speakers, submitted a briefing on the Queensland legislation. While voicing sympathy for those with gender dysphoria, he said the vast majority of children confused over gender will "re-orientate to an identity in accordance their chromosomes, through puberty, with traditional support of individual and family psychotherapy." He criticized the side-effects of puberty-blockers and cross-sex hormones, given that children and adolescents who undergo purported gender transitions will receive them for life.
"Why get involved in this medical matter?" he asked. "Why force a crisis of conscience on therapists aware of grave side effects and unconvinced of advantages of hormonal and surgical intervention in confused and vulnerable children, most of whom are known to revert to an identity in accordance with chromosomes with traditional support?"
The Australian Catholic Medical Association website has a resource page on Sex and Gender, including articles, documents, videos and news.
Mathieson encouraged Catholics to get informed on the topic.
"Understand what is behind this ideological movement and what is at stake. Especially parents should look into what is being taught to children in their schools, especially with sex education, among other subjects."
Kevin J. Jones is a senior staff writer with Catholic News Agency. He was a recipient of a 2014 Catholic Relief Services' Egan Journalism Fellowship.