The Family Court of Australia has delivered a landmark ruling that allows young people with gender dysphoria to undergo hormone treatment without court approval.
Australia was the only country in the world that required transgender youth to face court to get approval for their “stage two” 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.
But a landmark case concerning a 16 year old transgender male’s application to the Family Court for testosterone treatment was referred to the full court to allow it to reconsider its role in such cases.
On Thursday, the Family Court ruled that access to the hormone treatment would no longer require court authorisation.
Now, in cases with no dispute between the child, their parents, and their treating doctors, the stage two hormone treatment can simply be prescribed.
The Inner-City Legal Centre, who represented the 16-year-old known only as Kelvin, said the verdict sent a simple message.
“Transgender young people are able to make this decision with their doctors and families, and not the courts,” principal solicitor Hilary Kincaid said.
The Human Rights Law Centre’s Legal Advocacy Director Anna Brown described the decision was a “stunning victory” for young transgender people.
“This will make a profound difference to the lives of many young trans people who will now be relieved of the burden of a costly and unnecessary court process in order to access hormone treatment that supports them to be who they are,” she said.
“Doctors and parents are able to make decisions about every other kind of medical treatment for young people – including ethically complex decisions that weigh up risks and the consequences of not undergoing treatment – and gender dysphoria should be no different.”
One of the most prominent campaigners on the issue was trans teenager and now Young Victorian Australian of the Year recipient Georgie Stone (pictured, centre), who unsuccessfully challenged the process and had campaigned for it to be revisited ever since.
Stone tweeted on Thursday: “It has finally happened! Families no longer have to apply to the Family Court of Australia for stage two treatment. It is COMPLETELY out of the courts.
“Congratulations to everyone who have fought for this. We’ve done it. Thank you for your hard work and thank you to the Family Court for making the right decision. You have just changed the lives of hundreds of trans teens, for the better.”
It has finally happened! Families no longer have to apply to the Family Court of Australia for stage two treatment. It is COMPLETELY out of the courts. Congratulations to everyone who have fought for this. We’ve done it. Thank you for your hard work ❤️🏳️🌈
— Georgie Stone (@georgiestone16) November 30, 2017
… and thank you to the Family Court for making the right decision. You have just changed the lives of hundreds of trans teens, for the better.
— Georgie Stone (@georgiestone16) November 30, 2017
Ms Brown said the “bizarre legal anomaly” had emerged from “outdated attitudes to trans young people and a lack of understanding of just how far medical science and treatment of gender dysphoria has come in recent years.”
“Trans young people are already struggling and to inflict a costly, stressful and time-consuming court process was contributing to already alarmingly high levels of depression, self harm and suicide,” she said.
#breaking The Family Court has ruled transgender teenagers no longer have to go to court to access hormone treatment. Huge moment at the Royal Children’s Hospital with @georgiestone16 pic.twitter.com/ljnqvaLzHa
— Jo Lauder (@jolauder) November 30, 2017
Sel Cooper, executive director of community organisation A Gender Agenda, welcomed the decision and the organisation was seeing increasing numbers of young people and parents of transgender youth seeking support.
“Requiring families of transgender youth who are seeking gender-affirming hormones to go to court is intrusive and discriminatory, at a particularly challenging time for a group of young people already at high risk of suicide,” Cooper said.
“The Court’s decision means transgender young people, like any young person seeking medical treatment, will be able to make decisions about gender-affirming hormone therapy guided by medical professionals and their parents, rather than judges.”
Janet Grant, whose son is transgender, said the court process was extremely stressful for him and had adverse effects to his mental wellbeing.
“Coming out as transgender at 15 is difficult enough without having to go to court to deem if you and your parents are competent enough to make such a deeply personal decision,” she said.
“Even the ‘opposing’ counsel and the judge apologised about having to subject our family to such a humiliating and unnecessary experience.”
The full court judgement can be read at the Human Rights Law Centre’s website here.
If you need support, 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.