Australian trans teens will no longer need the court’s permission to have gender affirming surgery.
The Family Court ruled minors seeking ‘stage 3 medical treatment for their gender dysphoria’ would not need its permission anymore.
Stage 3 refers to surgical interventions for medical transition. It comes after Stages 1 and 2 treatment for preventing the onset of puberty and starting hormone treatment respectively.
In the Re Matthew case, the Family Court ruled that:
- gender dysphoria is a recognised medical condition;
- stage 3 treatment is a therapeutic treatment for a recognised medical condition; and
- applications to the court for stage 3 treatment are no longer mandatory. Unless there is a dispute between parents or medical professionals.
The Re Michael decision comes after a 2017 ruling that the court’s ruling was also not needed for trans teens to start hormone therapy.
The decision will save families of trans youth thousands of dollars in legal fees. But it will also stop unnecessary stress and delay.
Who is Matthew?
Sydney’s Inner City Legal Centre acted for the applicant, Matthew, in this Family Court case.
‘Matthew is a 16 year old transgender boy, who had been on testosterone for almost a year. At the time the ICLC filed an application on his parents’ behalf to the Family Court regarding ‘top surgery’,’ the ICLC’s Principal Solicitor Hilary Kincaid told Gay Star News.
Top surgery is the colloquial term for bilateral mastectomy and male chest reconstruction. It is classified as a ‘stage 3 treatment’.
‘Matthew had responded well to testosterone treatment, but his breasts were still a cause of really significant distress to him as they were a prominent reminder of his female assigned gender that did not match his identification as a male,’ Kincaid said.
Matthew wore a chest binder everyday and couldn’t take part in same social and sporting activities as his friends.
‘The ruling in Re Matthew is important because it sets a precedent that it is not necessary to make applications to the Family Court for stage 3 treatment (unless there is a dispute between the parents or medical professionals),’ Kincaid said.
‘This means that transgender children seeking stage 3 treatment may not face the expense, delay and cost of making an application to the court to treat their gender dysphoria.’