Transgender teens no longer need court nod for hormone treatment

Teenagers with gender dysphoria will be able to access stage 2 hormone treatment without the approval of the Family Court, following a landmark court ruling.

In recent years, adolescents have been able access stage 1 (puberty blocking treatment) with parental consent.

But they could only progress to stage 2 – gender-affirming hormone treatment – if they were declared Gillick competent by a court, following the court’s decision over the 2013 case re Jamie.

However on November 30 the Full Bench of the Family Court of Australia reversed this decision and set the new precedent with its ruling in the case Re Kelvin.

The case, concerning a 16-year-old transgender youth who applied to the Family Court to approve his testosterone treatment, was referred to the higher court to consider.

The decision was hailed “the greatest advancement in transgender rights for children and adolescents in Australia” by the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, which has received 130 referrals to its gender service this year, and was involved in the case.

Associate Professor Michelle Telfer, head of adolescent medicine and gender services at RCH, said the decision means transgender teens will have the same rights to healthcare as their peers, for the first time in Australian history.

“For these young people, the impact of this change is enormous,” she said.

“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,” Professor Telfer said.

She said 96% of those patients diagnosed at the hospital with gender dysphoria continued to identify as transgender into late adolescence, and none who commenced stage two treatment had sought to transition back to their birth sex.

The decision was welcomed by Endocrine Society of Australia president Associate Professor Warwick Inder who said it will simplify the management and care of transgender young people.

“There’s still a lot of checks and balances in the system, they have psychiatric and medical assessments and the need to get a court order was an unnecessary burden.”

Read the judgement in full here. 

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