“There is no sound reason children seeking a sex change should front court.”
Transgender teenagers must apply to the Family Court in order to start estrogen or testosterone treatment, usually aged 15 or 16.
This has led to an increase in the number of children applying to Court seeking treatment for gender dysphoria in clinics around Australia. “Not so long ago, these sorts of applications were a rarity; now they are common place.”
Children diagnosed with gender dysphoria cannot commence hormone treatment without an order from the Family Court. In 2003, the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne provided treatment for one child, but now receives approximately 100 referrals per year.
In a decision handed down on 22 December 2016, a Family Court Judge criticised the process requiring a child to apply to Court and allowed a 17 year old transgender boy, to commence testosterone treatment. The Family Court Judge, together with the families of transgender people, legal experts and medical professionals, believe the Court process to be unnecessary. The Judge was of the view that there is urgent need for statutory intervention. “The sooner that children and their families do not have to endure the ordeal of litigation in order to get on with their lives, the better.” The need for transgender children and their families to apply to the Family Court for orders relating to stage 2 treatment can be stressful, expensive and delay a child’s access to treatment.
The Judge permitted the child to be present in Court when the decision was delivered. Also present in the Court were his parents, family members and friends.
After the decision was delivered the Judge described the scene in the Courtroom. “The child’s face relaxed into relief, and his mother flashed him a quick, but revealing smile. The child’s father commenced to openly weep, a tremendous burden was lifting.”
In an Affidavit deposed to by the child, the child spoke of being continually asked whether he was a boy or a girl. The child stated that he had more guy friends than girls… that he liked more masculine activities than his female counterparts. He hated having to wear a school dress. He was having to pretend to be someone he wasn’t. As the child became older, he grew breasts, developed a figure and had his first menstrual cycle. He cried for a week and did not want to attend school.
The Judge commented that it was, “Difficult to discern any sound policy reason” for insisting that these children attend Court.
Recently, Attorney General, George Brandis said, “The government is sensitive to the concerns of children and their families who are living with gender dysphoria and is actively considering options for reform.”