PARENTS of trans children who traveled to Canberra to urge politicians to scrap laws requiring the High Court’s approval for children to begin hormone therapy were buoyed by the response of policy makers.
Currently a judge determines whether a child can begin stage-two hormone therapy treatment, either testosterone or oestrogen, a process that can costs families tens of thousands of dollars.
Jo Foster made the trip from Melbourne to tell Plibersek about how her 18-year-old son Jeremy’s education and social life has been incredibly delayed by not accessing hormones before he was declared an adult.
“I was a single parent… I wasn’t earning the mega-bucks to lay my hands on $30,000. But for my child I would’ve found a way to do so, even if it was selling every last thing I had,” she said.
“We decided to wait until he was 18 but it was about managing the gender dysphoria and his changing body.”
Foster said Jeremy was removed from conventional schooling because he suffered from bullying where his teachers ignored him and one student even tried to set him on fire.
Jeremy tried to finish high school by distance but the depression he developed — from bullying and from not being happy in his un-transitioned body — left him unmotivated and struggling to get out of bed.
“Trying to get out of bed was hard when you hated your body as much as he hated his,” Foster said.
“My son was a clever, creative, solid achiever… that bright future he would have had has disappeared, all for the an $11 shot of testosterone. I would’ve have had a child go to university this year.”
Following the meetings in Canberra on Monday, Foster is confident the law will soon change to prevent trans children and their families going through the same heartbreak.
Attorney-General George Brandis acknowledged the families’ request to change the laws without committing to whether he would support them, while Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus called on the government to consider the issue.
According to The Guardian Australia, Victorian Greens Senator Janet Rice and independent MPs Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan supported the laws being scrapped.
Sarah McFadyen also made the journey up from Victoria to fight for her seven-year-old son Jack, who will eventually start stage-one puberty blocker but will have to take testosterone when he turns 16.
“We understand the courts have to be involved in some cases… but that’s in a minute amount of cases,” she said.
“If a doctor who has a relationship with the child, the parents and even the child who is 16 gives consent why are we wasting the court’s time, our time, putting stress on ourselves and we’ll just get a big bill at the end of it.
“We have to decide now whether to save for the court fees or to buy a house. But as a parent you would do anything for your child, so we’re saving for the court fees. When it’s not necessary to go to court, how is that fair?”
McFadyen was also happy with the meetings in Canberra, but said life as the parent of a trans child was “one step forward, two backwards” and was dismayed to hear of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to investigate the Safe Schools Coalition education program.
“Jack transitioned socially at school with the Safe Schools Coalition and they do great work,” she said.
“Today has been really hard.”