Australia

'Groundbreaking': Parents of transgender children 'very happy' with landmark decision

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Parents of transgender children have rejoiced at a 'groundbreaking' Family Court decision that will make stage two hormone treatment more accessible to young people, meaning they "will no longer have to ask the court to go through puberty".

The father of a 17-year-old at the centre of a Family Court decision - that would see legal requirements eased for adolescent Australians - says he is "very happy" with Thursday’s ruling.

After considering the case of 'Kelvin' (a court-appointed pseudonym), the court found in favour of making stage two hormone treatment more accessible for transgender children.

The lawyer for the applicant's father, Inner City Legal Centre principal solicitor Hilary Kincaid, said she felt proud of herself, her centre and the other organisations who were involved in the case.

Ms Kincaid said Kelvin's father thought it was "fantastic news and that is really happy for everyone involved".

She said Thursday's landmark decision would allow "transgender young people and their families to make decisions about stage two treatments with their medical team in a time that is appropriate for them clinically".

"It's a great day. This court requirement has caused a lot of stress for transgender children and their families," Ms Kincaid said.

But she said there was still "a way to go" for transgender people in Australia.

"So, for instance, the law about changing gender on your birth certificate is different for every state you were born in," Ms Kincaid said,

"In NSW it requires surgery affecting your reproductive organs. That (the process to change gender on a birth certificate) is medieval."

Parents of Gender Diverse Children co-founder Karen Banks, whose daughter started transitioning when she was four years old, said the decision would be life-changing.

"It's groundbreaking... Thousands of young people across Australia will no longer have to ask the court to go through puberty," Ms Banks told SBS News.

"These decisions are best made by the treating medical team, the young person and their family, which is what will happen now.

"I feel relieved, I feel happy, I feel hopeful but mostly it's relief."

Ms Banks said this would also bring relief to the children who are undergoing gender transition.

"For the kids, basically they are treated by a gender clinic or a supervising medical team," she said.

"They will see psychologists, endocrinologists, paediatricians – all of that occurs, and as soon as they hit sixteen they did have to go to court and then have the court grant them permission to get stage two hormones.

"So I think that it is a really momentous day and so many in the trans and gender diverse community have pulled together and come together to make this happen."

Born a girl, 'Kelvin' was confirmed as having gender dysphoria by age nine, and his parents made an application to the court in early 2017 asking that he be deemed competent to authorise his own treatment.

"Stage two treatment for Kelvin's gender dysphoria involves the administration of testosterone to initiate the secondary sexual characteristics and appearance of the male sex," Thursday's decision noted.

Stage two treatment "may, but does not necessarily, cause long-term infertility" and stops short of surgical intervention.

"For Kelvin, if stage two treatment was not carried out his overall health and wellbeing is almost certain to deteriorate especially as his mental and physical health is heavily dependent on the perception of himself as male."

The Human Rights Law Centre, which represented A Gender Agenda who helped intervene in the case, has welcomed Thursday’s “landmark” decision.

Legal advocacy director Anna Brown said it was a stunning victory for young transgender people.

“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,” she said.

- with AAP

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