Australian teenager Georgie Stone wants to take on the court system to help save the lives of other trans youth.
In order for transgender children to access “stage two” hormone treatment, they need approval from a Family Court judge. They also require expert medical approval.
Australia is the only country in the world where the children must be assessed by a court before undertaking treatment. The process can take as long as 10 months and families pay a price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars.
16-year-old Georgie went through the harrowing court ordeal to get the permission that enabled her to transition before she began to go through puberty. She now lobbies politicians to scrap the court requirement. She wants to stop other teenagers going through the same difficult process.
Georgie speaks to ABC about trans youth
Georgie Stone spoke to the ABC’s Australian Story about her experience.
“I’m hoping after seeing my story they can see a happy, free 16-year-old who came out the other side.
“We all know that transgender children are more at risk of suicide and self-harm between the time of coming out and then accessing treatment.
“The Family Court is expensive and often delays mean that teenagers cannot get into court before it’s too late and they hit puberty.
“I would have killed myself if my voice had broken. It would have meant people could no longer take me on face value.”
The director of the Gender Service at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Dr Michelle Telfer, said many of her clients feel the same way.
“The court process causes delays. It’s very stressful. It’s pathologising for them.
“Going to court usually means that there’s something wrong, you’ve done something wrong or there’s something wrong with your family, and in these situations, it’s just not the case.”
Dr Telfer said the Gender Service at the RCH had 200 new referrals of transgender youth this year. In February, she accompanied several of the children and their parents to Canberra to lobby politicians to reform the court process.
Melbourne lawyer Paul Boers said he represented eight such families in pro bono court cases this year. He said the families can’t afford treatment and the children’s lives are at stake.
The court “just rubber stamps” the recommendations of the teens’ treating specialists, he said.
“My hope is that sooner rather than later there’s going to be an end to this madness…
“I know the Family Court wants an end to these cases. I’ve appeared before many judges who have said to me from the bench, ‘I don’t believe this should be in the Family Court. I don’t believe that these children’s parents and these children should have to come to court.'”
The Family Court
Family Court Chief Justice Dianna Bryant told the ABC “perhaps the matter needs to be reconsidered.”
“The law’s the law at the moment and there’s only the two circumstances in which it can be altered.
“I can’t do anything about it unless someone’s prepared to challenge the existing case law, or unless the government is prepared to legislate.”
Meanwhile, two other trans youth and their parents spoke to Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes about their own families’ struggles.
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(Photos by Jackie Cohen, courtesy of ABC)
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