Transgender Teens Win Major Court Victory in Australia

An Australian court has ruled that transgender teenagers do not need court permission to begin undergoing hormone therapy, thereby eliminating a massive barrier to living gender-affirmed. 

The decision reached by Australia’s Family Court removes the requirement that teenagers visit court to obtain legal permission for Stage 2 hormone treatments. Such treatments go beyond the Stage 1 puberty-blocking treatments to introduce either estrogen or testosterone, allowing teenagers to develop characteristics in line with their gender identity. 

Until now, a teenager with parental and physician consent would still have had to go through the courts to obtain permission. Australia was the only developed nation to enforce this kind of  barrier on a national scale, so the recent court ruling is significant.

In addition, the court was absolutely clear that “The treatment can no longer be considered a medical procedure for which consent lies outside the bounds of parental authority and requires the imprimatur of the court.”

Even though the Family Court has granted permission in the vast majority of cases, the stress of going through the court process — and the time required to secure court permission for hormone treatment — can weigh heavy on trans teens. The court’s ruling recognizes the developments in both how we treat gender dysphoria and how we affirm gender identity as a matter of self-determination.

The decision also specifically addresses the fact that, unless action is taken before the onset of puberty, teenagers may develop sex characteristics that they do not identify with — something that can greatly increase their sense of dysphoria and create more anxiety and stress.

“Transgender adolescents will now be able to access the treatment that is best for them, making decisions in collaboration with their parents and their doctors without the delay and the distress that the Court system imposes on them and their families,” Michelle Telfer, associate professor at the Royal Children’s Hospital, explained in a statement. “For these young people, the impact of this change is enormous. They will now have timely access to the treatment which provides a positive difference to their physical and mental health, and their social, emotional and educational outcomes.”

The specific case that brought about this change is known as “Re Kelvin.” The court found that Kelvin, a 17-year-old boy who was assigned female at birth, should not require court approval when they have the complete backing of their parents, the medical team and are “Gillick competent,” or fully able to understand the decision they are making.

This decision partially reverses a prior decision – Re Jamie – a 2013 case determining that the courts did need oversight before a teenager could proceed with Stage 2 hormone therapy. That latter case established that there wasn’t a need for court oversight for Stage 1 treatment. Clearly, the court is taking a careful but progressive view.

This progress on trans rights is crucial in minimizing government intrusion over trans people’s bodies, as well as over-medicalization.

While it’s important to ensure that young people fully understand their decisions, data suggests that definably trans children remain consistent in their gender expression. Hormone therapy can be key in helping these teens to reduce feelings of gender dysphoria.

As such, this latest court ruling in Australia is an important step toward helping trans people live their lives in a self-determined and self-directed way.

Photo credit: Janko Ferli on Unsplash.

41 comments

Sonia M
Sonia M10 days ago

Good news thanks for sharing

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silja s
silja s19 days ago

bravo!! every step is a step to a brilliant acceptance at all levels of society

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R20 days ago

Thank you for posting.

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Elaine W
Elaine W25 days ago

Very encouraging ;)

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Jim V
Jim Ven25 days ago

thanks

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Jim V
Jim Ven25 days ago

thanks

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Jerome S
Jerome S26 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Jerome S
Jerome S26 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Jim V
Jim Venabout a month ago

thanks

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Jim V
Jim Venabout a month ago

thanks

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