Australian transgender children fight to access hormones without court approval

By @iamkarlatecson on
Lulu, a six-year-old Argentine child who was listed as a boy at birth, has been granted new identification papers by the Buenos Aires provincial government listing her as a girl. Reuters/Stringer

The global discussion about LGBT rights hits home in Australia, which is the only country in the world that orders families to get the court’s permission before their transgender children can fully transition.

On Monday, transgender children and their loved ones gathered for a meeting at Parliament House in Canberra, asking for legislative reforms concerning them, according to a report by ABC. They hope to see some changes in the laws, allowing transgender children access to stage two of treatment for cross-sex hormone therapy without having to apply to the Family Court of Australia. 

More than the cost – which entails as much as $30,000 according to ABC – children and families have to deal with the emotional and physical toll of the legal process.

Transgender children, however, may no longer have to experience this barrier. The Coalition and Labor show signs that they will consider scrapping judicial oversight provisions in gender-changing hormones, The Guardian reported.

Changes to the laws could pass both houses quickly if both major parties get on board, according to Greens Senator Janet Rice. “If this is supported across the parliament, it should be a fairly straight-forward step,” she told The Guardian. 

Meanwhile, the shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, expressed his sympathy for transgender children and their families. “Labor is aware of this issue and the difficulty these court processes cause transgender children and their parents, and calls on the government to examine the issue,” he said.

The Family Court of Australia reports that between 2003 and 2011, 39 children and adolescents were referred to a Melbourne hospital's specialist treatment clinic for gender identity disorder. Among them, 21 adolescents were either approaching puberty or were pubertal, and were reviewed for consideration of hormone treatment. Eleven of them had planned to make an application to the Family Court for permission to authorise hormone treatment.

While Australian laws are differ with other nations when it comes to transgender children, this does not mean that young people's human rights have no place in the court’s jurisprudence, according to the Family Court of Australia. “In part due to the intervention of the AHRC, and in part due to greater community understanding of non-gender conformity, it is likely young transgender people's human rights will be at the forefront as the Family Court continues to grapple with the myriad complexities that arise in the area of competency and consent to medical treatment,” the Family Australian Court stated in its web site.