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‘Stunning victory’ as court rules trans teens won’t need its permission to start hormones

‘Stunning victory’ as court rules trans teens won’t need its permission to start hormones

Trans advocate Georgie Stone celebrates the Family Court's ruling

Australia’s Family Court has just handed down a historic ruling which has ended the need for trans teens and their families to get the Court’s approval to start hormone treatment before they turn 18.

The ruling has been described as the greatest advancement in transgender rights for children and adolescents in Australia.

Until now, trans and gender-diverse young people had to get a court order from the Family Court to access Stage 2 hormone treatment before they turned 18. This was despite going through rigorous medical and psychological assessment and having the permission of their parents.

Australia was the only country in the world that required court involvement in Stage 2 decision-making.

Going through the Court process has cost families thousands of dollars, with some families taking second mortgages just to pay the court costs.

Campaigners have lobbied politicians for years to try and have the laws changed.

Re Kelvin

Today’s Family Court decision came after a case titled Re Kelvin concerned a 16 year old trans man. He made an application to the Family Court to approve his testosterone treatment.

The case was subsequently referred up to the Full Court to reconsider its role in such cases. Then today the Court ruled that access to hormone treatment would no longer require Court authorisation.

The Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) represented community organisation A Gender Agenda, to intervene in the case.

The HRLC also wanted to represent the broader interests of trans and gender diverse people and their families.

Its director of Legal Advocacy, Anna Brown, said the Court’s ruling was a ‘stunning victory’.

‘This will make a profound difference to the lives of many young trans people who will now be relieved of the burden of a costly and unnecessary court process in order to access hormone treatment that supports them to be who they are,’ said , Anna Brown.

‘I broke down in tears’

Leanne Donnelly, the mom of a trans teen, was doing her grocery shopping when she heard about the Court’s ruling.

She told Gay Star News going through the Court process was ‘brutal’. Knowing that no family would ever have to go through this again gave Donelly ‘overwhelming happiness’.

‘I broke down into tears in the middle of grocery shopping when I heard the news,’ she said.

‘This means so much to all families with trans kids. Families that couldn’t afford the court process can now access treatment. Families that didn’t have the ability to navigate the legal system can now access necessary medical treatment for their kids.’

Donnelly’s son was still at school when the news broke, but she anticipates he will be overjoyed with the news.

‘My son hasn’t heard yet. When I told him yesterday it was likely to be overturned today he got teary and he doesn’t show emotion often,’ she said.

‘It’s just amazing. I’m so happy.’

Decision applauded

The Royal Children’s Hospital in the southern city of Melbourne runs one of the country’s leading services for trans and gender diverse young people.

It applauded the Family Court’s decision, citing it as the greatest advancement in transgender rights for children and adolescents in Australia.

‘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,’ said Dr Michelle Telfer, Head of Adolescent Medicine and Gender Services at the RCH.

‘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 RCH has received more than 230 patient referrals this year, and more than 700 since 2003. Of these, 96% diagnosed with gender dysphoria continued to identify as transgender into late adolescence. No patient who commenced stage two treatment has sought to transition back to their birth sex.