The Supreme Court of Queensland in a landmark order has ruled that a 13-year-old transgender child can be given puberty blockers without the consent of her father.
Trans rights activists have welcomed the court’s order saying it would help transgender children in the state to better access gender affirming treatments without needing the consent of both set of parents or guardians.
The child’s mother had approached the court seeking permission for stage one of the puberty blocking medical treatment. The child’s father has not been in contact with the family since 2017. In the past the father had been unsupportive of the child’s decision and said demeaning and threatening things to her and her mother.
The mother’s request to start puberty blockers had been under the ‘parens patriae jurisdiction’, which permits the court “to make orders contrary to the wishes of a child’s parents if it is satisfied it is in the best interests of the child to do so.”
The child who has a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is an above average student and is being presently home schooled. Since she was four years old, the child had declared that she was a girl and not a boy, and had been born in the wrong body. Material submitted to the court also outlined how the child felt uncomfortable wearing boys’ clothes and preferred girls’ clothing, preferably in the colour pink and had socially transitioned while attending school.
The court was approached on the last day of the court year on December 18, for an urgent order and concerns that a delay could impact the child. As per the recent order of the Family Court of Australia a court order is required to commence puberty blocking treatment for a child if both parents or guardians have not consented to it. In cases, where the child, parents and the medical team agree, there is no requirement for a court order.
In the present case, the mother and the child have been estranged from the father since 2017. The father had an interstate criminal history relating to drugs and weapons offences, and has previously been subject to a domestic violence order. The mother and the child have not spoken to the father since 2017, when they moved to regional Queensland to escape him.
The court said that the child’s medical team agreed that the treatment with puberty blockers should begin without delay and is “the national and international best practice and is in accordance with the current Guidelines.”
“Previous rulings have required both parents’ consent, regardless of the degree of involvement with parenting, and despite the fact that all medical protocols had been satisfied. Medical protocols in Australia require several evidence-based professionals to have determined that this treatment is appropriate and necessary. It used to be that the court had the final say, then it was the court needed to be involved if only one parent consented with the medical team onboard, this removes a hurdle where a parent may not be involved or may be being obstructionist,” said Clinch.
Clinch pointed out that the Australian court’s ruling was in line with medical evidence, unlike some international court orders on the issue. “Some recent rulings in the UK have appeared to have been influenced by uninformed conservative fear-mongering that is contrary to medical understanding and protocols for treatment of trans youth.
“We have the same lobbying here via extremists who have something against trans people, but fortunately it seems to be having less impact,” added Clinch.
You can find more information about services for trans and gender diverse children at The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne website.