A landmark ruling by the Family Court of Australia has struck down a law requiring court authorisation in instances of trans young people seeking hormone treatment.
The historic decision in the Re Kelvin case is a major moment in the battle for transgender rights in Australia.
The five judgments of the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia found in two separate judgements that Stage 2 treatment no longer requires court authorisation.
The Inner City Legal Centre’s Principal Solicitor Hilary Kincaid said the moment sends a clear and important message.
“Transgender young people are able to make this decision with their doctors and families, and not the courts,” she said.
“Going through the court process was extremely stressful for our son and had adverse effects to his mental wellbeing,” said Janet Grant, the mother of a transgender youth the ICLC also represented.
“Coming out as transgender at 15 is difficult enough without having to go to court to deem if you and your parents are competent enough to make such a deeply personal decision.
“Even the ‘opposing’ counsel and the judge apologised about having to subject our family to such a humiliating and unnecessary experience.”
The ICLC cautioned that though these processes are no longer necessary, unanswered questions still remain.
Though Re Kelvin may have softened the current law regarding applications made by parents, there needs to be further clarification on applications made by guardians and relatives.
The Human Rights Law Centre also argued in the case, and called the ruling a historic win for young trans 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.
“Doctors and parents are able make decisions about every other kind of medical treatment for young people – including ethically complex decisions that weigh up risks and the consequences of not undergoing treatment – and gender dysphoria should be no different,” said HRLC Director of Advocacy Anna Brown.
Victoria’s Young Australia of the Year Georgie Stone, who has long advocated for the change, tweeted out her joy at the decision. Stone was the youngest person to ever be granted access to hormone blockers via the Family Court.
“We’ve done it!” she said.
It has finally happened! Families no longer have to apply to the Family Court of Australia for stage two treatment. It is COMPLETELY out of the courts. Congratulations to everyone who have fought for this. We’ve done it. Thank you for your hard work ❤️🏳️🌈
— Georgie Stone (@georgiestone16) November 30, 2017
“Thank you to the Family Court for making the right decision. You have just changed the lives of hundreds of trans teens, for the better,” she said.
The decision departs from that of another case, Re Jamie, in which Stone unsuccessfully challenged the court’s role, and follows extensive criticism from medical and legal experts as well as trans rights advocates.