A Family Court judge has condemned the court process trans teenagers are subjected to before accessing medical treatment for transition.
The process, which exclusively occurs in Australia, requires teens to apply to the court to start hormone treatment. Since its institution in 2004, no teenager has been denied treatment.
In a decision last month, Family Court judge Peter Tree allowed a 17-year-old boy named Lucas to start testosterone treatment, but slammed the legal process required.
“As if the general turmoil and challenges which being a teenager in our modern world generates are not enough, the additional burden of requiring an already vulnerable and highly marginalised group to individually litigate to vindicate their identity seems inhumane,” Tree wrote.
“No other group of adolescents is required to do so. Having already traversed a far more difficult path than many of their peers, it can only serve to further increase their burden.”
Tree called the process “of no benefit to the child” and “anything but in their best interests”.
The judge is one of a growing body of trans people and their families, legal experts and medical professionals who oppose the court process as unnecessary.
The process can only be overturned by a court appeal or federal legislation. Because treatment has always been approved by the court, an appeal overturning the process is unlikely, Tree noted in his judgement.
“The sooner that children such as Lucas and their families do not have to endure the ordeal of litigation in order to get on with their lives, the better,” he wrote.
Labor Shadow Minister for Equality Terri Butler said she was “very concerned” about the court process, and acknowledged it is expensive and time-consuming for families.
“People I’ve spoken to in the trans community often nominate this as a key issue,” she said.
“The Turnbull government should make clear what they intend to do about this situation.”