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Parenting

Teen told she can undergo life-saving hormone therapy after court overrules mum’s attempt to block her transition

Vic Parsons September 13, 2020
Court overrules mother to allow 16-year-old access to hormone therapy

(Anatoliy Cherkasov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)

An Australian court has given permission for a 16-year-old trans girl to receive gender-affirming hormone therapy, overruling her mother who opposes her transition.

The girl, given the name Imogen during proceedings, had “expressed a consistent, persistent and insistent view that she wishes to move to… gender affirming hormone treatment”, the judge said in his ruling at the Family Court.

Justice Garry Watts said Imogen is legally competent to consent to the treatment, correctly diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and that hormone therapy is in her best interests.

Her father, who supports her transition, said the judge’s decision came as a relief.

“We got the result last night and we had a bit of a cry,” he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Imogen’s father described the judge as “very fair” in hearing both sides, and invested in finding out what was in his daughter’s best interests.

Imogen, who has described herself as female since she was seven, will now be able to access the feminising hormone oestrogen.

In Australia, any form of medical transition for under-18s – puberty blockers, hormone treatment, or gender-confirming surgery – used to have to be approved by a court.

Since a 2013 ruling, it’s been possible for parents and children to access puberty-blocking drugs without a judges approval.

In 2017, another court ruled that trans youth and their parents could consent to hormone treatment without needing to go to court. But the role of the court in assessing disputes – like in Imogen’s case, where one parent supports her transition and one opposes it – had remained unclear.

This week’s Family Court decision “improves certainty” for families and transgender young people, said the Inner City Legal Centre in Sydney.

In his judgement, Justice Watts said that the court will only intervene in access to hormone treatment for trans youth if a parent or doctor disputes the child’s legal competency to consent, the diagnosis of gender dysphoria, or the proposed treatment.

In Imogen’s case, her mother disputed all three. But Watts said that Imogen was an “adolescent of intelligence and maturity”, legally competent to consent and that hormone treatment is in her best interests.

The Inner City Legal Centre said “the court’s judgment confirms that the existing law is that a medical practitioner seeing a young person under the age of 18 cannot initiate stage one, two or three treatment without establishing parental consent”. If there is a dispute, the court must intervene.

More: Family Court, hormones, puberty blockers, trans healthcare, trans kids, transition

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