The parents of “Jamie” successfully applied to the Family Court for access to hormone treatment in 2011, but later challenged the requirement for such a process at all, arguing this should be a decision for a child’s parents.
The Family Court’s full bench concluded that hormone treatment for “childhood gender identity disorder” is not a medical procedure requiring court authorisation, in part because it is fully reversible.
While “childhood gender identity disorder” was referred to explicitly in the ruling, it is important to note many trans people consider it and similar terms pathologising.
Prior to the decision, the Family Court had operated under the principle that any “body modification” to a minor had to be approved by the court, in accordance with an earlier legal precedent. Transgender Victoria spokesperson Sally Goldner explained the implications of the ruling to Star Observer:
“It now sets at least a precedent that you don’t have to get the Family Court approval, which has massive physical, psychological and financial benefits for all involved,” Goldner said, explaining how this process could negatively impact the children involved.
“If there’s a delay in getting the Family Court approval and someone’s hitting puberty, every week where the person doesn’t have the blockers means they’re developing ‘a wrong body’.
“There’s the resulting psychological distress of that. But the total cost of going to the Family Court is estimated at $40,000. To have legal processes to get a medication that is governed by other medical safeguards is obviously a huge imposition.”
Goldner said the decision was a massive step forward for the trans community, and praised the family involved for their willingness to go through the stressful process of bringing a case like this before the court.
She said the ruling helps move dialogue around these issues forward, acknowledging the agency and self-awareness trans people have around their own bodies.
“There has to be a set of checks and balances…but there has to be less of a gatekeeping approach and more of an informed consent approach,” Goldner argued.
“I think that what this does for young people is it moves us towards that, and that has to be a good thing. It is coming down to whether we recognise that trans people are both intelligent and emotionally intelligent people with self-awareness of what we go through, and that we should see a reduction and eventual end to any pathologisation.”