Panic attacks as kids taught not to use gender terms

Dr Thomas Lyons.
Dr Thomas Lyons.

Gender language warriors are making kids frightened to say "boy" or "girl", with one Queensland doctor warning we risk a generation scared "to admit they are heterosexual".

The warning from Logan doctor Thomas Lyons comes as mums of two transgender children who say kids need support, not gender neutral language.

Midwives are also battling to head off the push to drop "breastfeeding" for "chestfeeding" and "mother's milk" for human milk.

"If the push to eliminate gender from society continues we are likely to see a wave of suicidal adolescents who are too anxious to admit they are heterosexual and happy in the bodies they were born into," GP Dr Thomas Lyons said.

The medic is angry that a non-binary blanket is being thrown over the wider community when the majority of the population has no problem with the words 'boy", "girl", "father" or "mother".

"Who are these fascists who assert authority over the lives, culture and values of the majority, This coup will fail," the doctor said.

Dr Lyons admits that the drive to outlaw gendered language became a problem for him after an experience where he had six kids visit his surgery. When he was testing their sight with a chart showing the drawings of animals and people, four of the kids refused to say the words 'boy" or "girl" and all six were stressed and panicky.

"These children, without the knowledge or permission of the principal and parents, had been taught by teachers that the words 'boy' and 'girl' had some kind of bad magic and to utter them would somehow harm people. The children knew what they could see and hear but could not reconcile themselves with the notion that this was wrong to see boys and girls as different. Watching a six-year-old have a panic attack over use of gender identifying language is disturbing," he said.

Adding to the debate, two Queensland mothers who have lived the reality of raising transgender children are not fans of gender-neutral parenting.

Queensland mum Meagan Hayes. Photo: 60 Minutes
Queensland mum Meagan Hayes. Photo: 60 Minutes

"Most children are happy in who they are and to raise them in a world without the word 'boy' or 'girl' and letting them decide for themselves is putting undue pressure on young minds," Meagan Hayes, mother of 16-year-old transgender daughter Emma, said.

"I respect those who make this choice but it is my experience that children are what they are and nothing will change that," the Gympie mum told The Sunday Mail.

"My daughter tried to cut off her own penis at the age of four. At that very young age she instinctively knew she was a girl and told everyone that she was a girl.

"My parenting style or any restricted use of language would not change that in any way."

Michelle Suters from Rothwell, north of Brisbane, is the mother of four children and two step-children. Her son Nate, 17, is transgender.

"My children were all raised the same. They could play with whatever toys they wanted whether trucks or dolls. Nate wasn't interested in dolls, he wanted to be a superhero and loved worm farms. He wanted his hair short from when he was 10. We just accepted him as he was no questions asked," Ms Suters said.

"I am not a fan of gender-neutral parenting. Most children are happy to be either a boy or a girl. I don't think they need to be made frightened of being one of the other. Nature has a way or making things happen as they should. All any parent can do is support and love their child for what they are or what they want to be," she said.

Both mothers agree that gender words should not be erased but children should be taught that their opportunities are not hindered by gender and it's OK to buck stereotypes.

But on the flip side Nate Musiello himself told The Sunday Mail that he believes that in the future people will adapt to a world without gender.

"I think my generation see things a bit differently and the world is ready for the shift. The use of the words 'boy' or 'girl' were hurtful to me as I grew up. I will raise my own children gender neutral and I think small things like removing the Mr from the toy Potato Head is a good thing. Why does a potato have to be a man?" Nate said.

Social commentator David Chalke said the bid to wipe out the words "girl" or "boy" in society is ludicrous.

"Parents can raise children in whatever way they see fit but to throw out these ideas to fit the wider community is a mistake," he said.

"No child should be directed to be scared of certain words and children are too young to understand the extreme message.

"This trend is a push by a minority that should not impact the whole community particularly children. I have a manhole leading up to my attic, is that going to be a problem?"

A push for midwives to use more gender-inclusive words like "chestfeeding" rather than "breastfeeding", "feeding parent" rather than "mother", and "peri-natal" instead of "maternity" is gathering momentum, but the Australian College of Midwives is standing firm against the drive, determined they will not wipe out "women" from the health system.

Maternity consumer advocates state that removing words such as "mother", "breastfeeding" and "woman" from experiences that are direct experiences of women is "completely misogynist".

"This is something that is coming to the fore and we hear about it regularly but our stance is that changing the vernacular to remove the word "women" is going to take us backward rather than forward. Women make up over 50 per cent of the population," Ruth King, adviser to the ACM said.

The Australian midwife stance comes as NHS services in some areas of the UK have implemented new guidelines to be more trans-friendly and their services will no longer be called maternity services but peri-natal services.

Other changes include replacing "woman" with "woman or person" and "father" with "parent", "co-parent" or "second biological parent".

The NHS policy document states that "gender identity can be a source of oppression and health inequality".

One of the nation's top universities has also told staff to stop using the word "mother" and replace it with "gestational parent" and "father" should be referred to as "birthing parent".

The Australian National University's Gender Institute Handbook instructs tutors to use "chestfeeding" and "human or parent's milk" instead of "mother's milk".

National body Maternity Consumer Network is firmly against the changes in the birthing sector.

"Breast milk doesn't come from the chest, it comes from breast tissue of mammals. Females who experience body dysphoria need a treatment plan involving specialists in mental health and should access individualised maternity care like everyone else. This may involve changing language to suit the individual," Alecia Staines from the network said.

"A blanket change of words is detrimental to be able to dismantle a sexist system that discriminates against women because they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Erasing the experience of women isn't inclusive," she said.

Originally published as Panic attacks as kids taught not to use words 'boy' or 'girl'


‘It went faster’: Caretaker’s motorised wheelchair swap

Premium Content ‘It went faster’: Caretaker’s motorised wheelchair swap

A court has heard a man initially denied any knowledge of a woman’s missing...

Heartbreaking decision made after twin’s stillbirth

Premium Content Heartbreaking decision made after twin’s stillbirth

Mum on why she agreed to an autopsy after twin was stillborn

REVEALED: 500,000 pages of documents state wont let you see

Premium Content REVEALED: 500,000 pages of documents state wont let you see

Thousands spent trying to uncover secret government documents