The Family Court of Australia has just ruled that transgender teenagers no longer need a Family Court order to undergo hormone treatment as part of their gender transition. A court order will now only need to be obtained when there is not a consensus on the need for a gender transition between doctors, parents and the child. This follows a previous Family Court ruling that transgender teenagers no longer needed the permission of the court to take puberty blockers which prevent them from undergoing the puberty of their biological sex.
Transgender activists have long complained that Australia is the only western nation that requires court orders for underage person to undergo a gender transition. They highlight the fact that the Family Court has never rejected a case and it is an expensive and traumatizing process for transgender teenagers and the families to go through. They also argue that creating barriers to teenagers transition sometimes has the effect of forcing them to experience puberty in a gender they are not comfortable with.
Some medical professionals and conservative activists have opposed the push to allow underage persons undergo gender transitions arguing they are not mature enough to make such a life changing decision which permanently alters their body. They point to a recent 60 Minutes story about 14 year old Patrick who underwent illegal estrogen treatment when he was 12 as he wanted to transition to a girl but later changed his mind. They also highlight the disruption a child’s transition causes to other children in a school and community setting.
This ruling had the backing of federal Attorney-General George Brandis who made a submission to Family Court regarding this case calling hormone treatment for transgender teenagers “therapeutic” and helping to treat the “disease” of gender dysphoria.
No doubt this decision will have a huge impact on how gender transitions are managed in Australia and the debate about whether teenagers are mature enough to make such a life changing and non-reversible decision will continue.