Australian children with gender dysphoria will no longer require court approval to undergo surgery if they have parental and doctors’ permission, in a landmark ruling by the Family Court of Australia.
The Family Court made the ruling in the case of a 16-year-old boy, known under the pseudonym Matthew, who sought the court’s consent to undergo a double mastectomy to treat his gender dysphoria.
Young trans people will no longer be forced to undergo the costly, time-consuming and stressful court proceedings in situations where their doctors recommend therapeutic surgery as treatment for their gender dysphoria.
According to the ruling, no application to the court was necessary for Matthew because he had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria by his doctors, the doctors agreed he was competent to decide to have the treatment, and his parents had given permission.
One doctor told the court the surgical treatment could potentially be life-saving, and denying it would likely cause “extreme distress, low mood and the potential for worsening suicidal ideation,” the ABC reported.
Another doctor told the court the surgery would have an “immediate and profound therapeutic benefit” for the young people.
“The individual is able to wear clothing that is congruent with their gender, has much less fear of being misgendered as a female or having their transgender status unwantedly discovered by others, and can move freely and participate in a broad range of desired social and sporting activities,” he said.
Transgender young people without parental permission will still need to apply to the court in order to proceed with the treatment, as will children in state care.
The decision follows a Family Court ruling last year which struck down a requirement that the court authorise transgender teenager’s commencement of “stage two” oestrogen or testosterone hormone treatment.
Australia was the only country in the world that required transgender youth to face court to get approval for the hormone treatment, a process with a waiting period of as long as 10 months and a price tag for families in the tens of thousands of dollars.
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
(Photo by Jeffrey Feng/Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras)