Current Affairs

12-year-old trans girl fights to change the law

Bobby Rae February 22, 2016
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Isabelle Langley-McNamara is fighting to change Australian law on transgender children to help thousands of kids just like her.

About 44,000 children Down Under identify as transgender and in order to stop them going through the puberty of their assigned gender, they require stage two cross sex hormone therapy.

However, Australia is believed to be the only country in the world where the treatment is available, but requires authorisation from the Family Court to get it.

Travelling from Taggerty, near Melbourne, Isabelle and her family have met with politicians from all of the nation’s major parties in order to gain support for a change in the law.

12-year-old trans girl fights to change the law

“There’s been really dark times. Isabelle has said to us that if she can’t be who she truly is and live as a girl, then she’d rather not live at all. That’s what we’re dealing with here and that’s the level of distress,” her mother, Naomi said.

“This is a scary thing for me as a mother, and I will move mountains to make sure she is safe.”

Advocates for a change to the law argue that going to court can cost upwards of $30,000 (£15,234, $21,565) and place a huge emotional burden on the family.

Isabelle hoped that meeting politicians face-to-face would encourage them to act quickly.

“I am a girl, I was born a girl, not a boy who wants to be a girl. Unfortunately for me, I was cursed with some physical characteristics that don’t match my identity as a girl,” Isabelle said.

“This has been very hard and very stressful. I have tried to hurt myself and have questioned whether I even want to be here.

“I am scared all the time about going through male puberty and not getting the right treatment that will help me have the body that I should.”

When asked what would happen if she couldn’t get the treatment, she added: “I wouldn’t feel anything because I would be dead.”

Medical Opinion

Also visiting Canberra was Dr Michelle Telfer from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

A leading paediatrician in the field of gender dysphoria she has dealt with more than 200 children and said there needed to be an urgent review of the law.

She said: “The court process is currently standing in the way of a number of those young people actually accessing that treatment, and without access to treatment we know that the self-harm and suicide risks are much higher.

“It’s only really the young person who can know how it feels for them, and I think we need to trust that young person.”

Asked about how hopeful she was that a change to the law could happen, Dr Telfor added: “I do feel that we have tri-partisan support.”

Related topics: 12 year old, Australia, Australia, Isabelle Langley-McNamara, Trans

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