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Trans teenagers no longer need judge's approval for hormone therapy, court rules
Posted November 30, 2017 19:40:22
Teenagers with gender dysphoria will no longer have to apply to a judge to undergo hormone therapy, following a ruling by the Family Court.
The court today decided it would no longer intervene in cases where children have the permission of their parents and their treating doctors.
For 14-year-old Isabelle Langley, who was born a boy and is seeking hormone therapy, the ruling has lifted an enormous burden.
"I'm not sure how to express [how I feel]. It makes me immensely happy," Isabelle said.
"[The court process] was stressful having to think about it, and it would be very costly. It was very time consuming, it's a lot of effort which could be put into something else."
Isabelle's parents had hired a lawyer and began gathering medical evidence to justify her decision to live as a girl.
External Link: Transgender Family Court decision tweet
But now all she needs to do is consult with her doctors before deciding when she should start hormone treatment.
"I feel much less anxious and a little less scared of my body also. At least now I don't have to worry that it's going to attack me anymore," she said.
The court's ruling removes a final legal hurdle for countless other trans children, according to Anna Brown of the Human Rights Law Centre.
"Australia, we think, is the only jurisdiction in the world that had this situation, so we really were an outlier," Ms Brown said.
"We had this very bizarre legal anomaly that was really as a result of the case law being applied in a certain way by the Family Court.
"And really reflecting a lack of understanding about gender dysphoria and a lack of understanding about the medical evidence, which obviously the court has rectified now."
Hormone therapy not for everyone
But Ms Brown said children in state care and those whose parents object to their hormone treatment will still have to go to court.
"Just like other situations where there's a conflict between the parents regarding medical treatment for a young person or a child," she said.
"Those cases end up going to court in the end in some instances as well, so I think it's very appropriate that the court still has a role to play in those exceptional cases."
Michelle Telfer from the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne said it was not recommended everyone suffering gender dysphoria undergo hormone treatment.
"It's for those young people like [trans activist Georgie Stone] who feel absolutely compelled in their need to have treatment like they are being their authentic self," Dr Telfer said.
Dr Telfer also does not think the court's decision will see an increase in the number of trans children seeking treatment.
"Most young people that chose not to go to court simply start hormone treatment at 18," she added.
The NSW Department of Family and Community Services was the only party in the Family Court case that argued children should still ask the court's permission.
The NSW Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward, was unavailable for an interview, but in a statement said: "I have great misgivings in the treatment of gender dysphoria in children and young people and feel we need to be very careful in the way this is managed."
Topics:courts-and-trials, family, children, australia