Dig­gers’ sex-swap surgery a ‘bad joke’

The Weekend Australian - - THE NATION - GREG BROWN

For­mer SAS com­man­der An­drew Hastie has crit­i­cised the Aus­tralian De­fence Force for spend­ing more than $1 mil­lion on treat­ment for staff ex­pe­ri­enc­ing gen­der dys­pho­ria, and re­vealed he left the mil­i­tary be­cause of “ag­gres­sive so­cial en­gi­neer­ing”.

The West Aus­tralian Lib­eral MP, who was an army of­fi­cer be­fore en­ter­ing par­lia­ment, said tax­pay­ers should not have paid for 27 ADF per­son­nel who un­der­went sex changes and treat­ment for gen­der dys­pho­ria over the past five years.

“The ‘no fail’ mis­sion of the Aus­tralian De­fence Force is to win Aus­tralia’s wars,” Mr Hastie told The Week­end Aus­tralian. “I do not see how th­ese surg­eries en­hance our war-fight­ing ca­pa­bil­ity as a na­tion. It’s a bad joke. Why is the ADF now a ve­hi­cle for rad­i­cal so­cial en­gi­neer­ing?”

In a speech de­liv­ered to the De­fence Chris­tians Din­ner last month, Mr Hastie said he left the force be­cause of its sup­port for “so­cial en­gi­neer­ing”.

“I re­pu­di­ate the ag­gres­sive so­cial en­gi­neer­ing that has been tak­ing place in the ADF, par­tic­u­larly in the army,” Mr Hastie said.

“The mil­i­tary is no place for the lat­est aca­demic fad or trendy po­lit­i­cal or­tho­doxy. We have lives at stake ev­ery time we send our peo­ple in the field. Com­man­ders par­tic­u­larly need to be clear-eyed about the threats they face and how they can de­feat them.”

Sev­en­teen ADF mem­bers had sex-change surgery in the past five years, with the to­tal cost amount­ing to $1.05m, not in­clud­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals dis­pensed by the De­fence Force.

Op­po­si­tion de­fence per­son­nel spokes­woman Amanda Rish­worth yes­ter­day de­fended the ADF fund­ing.

“The ADF spends money on a range of health treat­ments to sup­port the well­be­ing of its work­force and in recog­ni­tion that an eq­ui­table and di­verse work­force is a valu­able ca­pa­bil­ity en­abler. La­bor sup­ports an ADF that sup­ports its peo­ple to max­imise de­fence out­comes for Aus­tralia,” Ms Rish­worth said.

For­mer army of­fi­cer Cate Mc­Gre­gor, who is trans­gen­der and paid for her sex-change surgery, said the crit­i­cisms were un­war­ranted.

“Is this a coun­try where any pa­tri­otic cit­i­zen who is will­ing to serve their coun­try is en­ti­tled to serve their coun­try?” Ms Mc­Gre­gor told the ABC last night.

“If you serve your coun­try you sign a con­tract of un­lim­ited li­a­bil­ity ... that car­ries with it an im­pli­ca­tion that you will be looked af­ter med­i­cally.”

Lib­eral MP Craig Kelly said the tax­payer should fund coun­selling for per­son­nel ex­pe­ri­enc­ing gen­der dys­pho­ria but not sex­change op­er­a­tions.

Aus­tralian Con­ser­va­tives leader Cory Bernardi urged the Turn­bull govern­ment to stop fund­ing sex-change and cos­metic surgery for de­fence per­son­nel.

“The ADF needs to be able to do its job free from the doc­trines of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness and cul­tural sen­si­tiv­i­ties,’’ Se­na­tor Bernardi said.

Aus­tralian De­fence As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Neil James de­fended fund­ing sex­change surg­eries, say­ing de­fence per­son­nel had all their med­i­cal costs cov­ered and gen­der dys­pho­ria should be no dif­fer­ent.

A Depart­ment of Health spokes­woman said Medi­care did not fund sex-change surgery.

The De­fence Force also cov­ers cos­metic pro­ce­dures that meet the clin­i­cal re­quire­ments of the Medi­care Ben­e­fits Sched­ule, in­clud­ing breast en­hance­ment surgery. There were 15 breast en­hance­ment pro­ce­dures between 2012 and 2015 billed to the tax­payer at a cost of about $235,000.

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