Transgender teens in Family Court win

THE country's top Family Court judges have made it easier and cheaper for transgender teens to change sex.

A Sydney father brought the landmark case on behalf of his son, 17-year-old "Kelvin", who was born female but has identified as a boy since the age of nine, and won the right for teenagers to make the decision without court oversight.

This means teenagers can start hormone treatment to change their sex with approval only from the medical profession and their parents.

"The distress caused by gender dysphoria can lead to anxiety, depression, self-harm and attempted suicide," the court said in yesterday's judgment.

Protest... Hundreds protest a Trump administration announcement this week that rescinds an Obama-era order allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms matching their gender identities
Protest... Hundreds protest a Trump administration announcement this week that rescinds an Obama-era order allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms matching their gender identities

"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."

The judges were told young people were suffering because the process of gaining court approval for hormone treatment was so costly and lengthy.

Of about 60 transgender applications­ made by children to the Family Court since 2004, none has been refused

The Family Court deemed the ruling so important that five of its appeal judges sat on the case - the first time they had done so in 12 years.

Previously, teens could begin only "puberty-blocking treatment" without court approval after being diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a term the court said describes the distress experienced by transgender people. That treatment is reversible, unlike hormone drugs.

The judges found there were risks in not providing hormone drugs, while also acknowledging that they can cause infertility.

Support.... Attorney-General George Brandis
Support.... Attorney-General George Brandis

Kelvin changed schools to present as a male, used a chest-binder and in 2014 attended the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex and Questioning "campout" on the Central Coast.

The court had already ruled Kelvin was "competent" and fully understands what is involved in starting hormone treatment, as required under the previous law, but his father brought the appeal to ask the court to step out of the process altogether.

Among those supporting the change was federal Attorney-General George Brandis, who supported the views of the ACT group A Gender Agenda, and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Only the NSW Department of Family and Community Services­ raised any opposition, saying the court should remain in an oversight role to make sure there was no "grave error" and the treatment was in the best interests of the child.



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