Community legal service Justice Connect, which links pro bono lawyers with people who need them, is helping trans teens to gain access to transition treatment.
The court process requires teens to plead their case before being allowed to commence hormone therapy, known as ‘stage two’. It is often prohibitively expensive, at around $20,000 for a private lawyer.
“The second half of 2016 saw a more than doubling in requests,” said Justice Connect CEO Fiona McLeay.
Rachell Davey is a lawyer with Lander & Rogers, which has acted pro bono in a number of court cases for trans teens. Davey is one of a growing group of advocates who believe the stage two court process should be abolished.
“It’s certainly our view, and the view unanimously of other family lawyers, that [the court process] is an unnecessary imposition on the life of these families,” Davey said.
“It achieves nothing in terms of their welfare, and it adds considerably to their stress and anxiety.”
Advocates and families of trans people have expressed concerns that the difficulty of gaining access to hormone treatment though the court increases the risk of young people resorting to risky black-market hormones.
Trans advocate Georgie Stone has collected almost 15,000 signatures on a petition to overturn the process.
Stone called going through the court system “one of the darkest times of my life”.
“I felt bad that my being transgender was forcing my family to go through court, my brother had a hard time. It impacted on all of us and I felt responsible for that. I know it’s not my fault and my family never made me feel that way, but that how this situation made me feel and that’s a burden I shouldn’t have to carry,” Stone said.
Last month, Family Court judge Peter Tree called the process “inhumane” and called for urgent government action to scrap it.