Justice for trans youth australiaIn Australia young people who are deemed appropriate candidates for Stage 2 Cross Hormone Treatment currently face a series of legal roadblocks which can make it either difficult, or in some cases impossible, for them to receive this treatment.

To change this requires the Australian Government to legislate so that specialist Medical Practitioners (who the Court currently relies upon to base their decisions) can determine the young person’s eligibility for treatment, and can determine a young person’s ability to make informed consent about their treatment (also called ‘Gillick Competence‘). The specialists have the capacity to do this in relation to Stage 1 treatment (aka Puberty Blockers) already.

Why the Australian Government needs to urgently legislate for access to Stage 2 Cross Hormones:

  • The Court process often exacerbates existing anxiety/mental health issues for adolescents by asking them to prove their competency. This can increase an adolescent’s distress due to the perception that the court may disallow treatment sought. This is at a time when many young people are engaged in educational activities – anxiety has caused many to drop out of school, or not reach the potential they would otherwise be capable of, were they not preoccupied with seeking court approval.

  • The cost to a family of this Court process is reported to be up to $30,000. For many families this is a major barrier to treatment. This cost is on top of other medical costs that families must pay for professional medical services.

  • The court process creates the risk of adolescents and their families seeking black market treatments and self-medicating which could be very dangerous.

  • To date no court decision regards access to treatment has gone against the recommendations of the treating professionals – so why not leave it to the Doctors? The court is effectively a very expensive ‘rubber stamp’ process.

  • There has been commentary regards the Court being needed to intervene due to the non-reversible nature of stage 2 treatment. However, why isn’t same weight given to the non-reversible nature of going through a puberty that does not align with the child’s Gender Identity?

  • Young people from families in regional areas are disadvantaged further through greater expenses and challenges as due to travel costs, challenges of access to specialist legal advice which may not be available in their area.

  • Young people from families that are vulnerable (single income, single parents etc.) are disadvantaged as they may not have the income to support Court action, and therefore many adolescents from this family type are unable to receive treatment.

  • No country, other than Australia, requires its young people to have to go through a court process.

  • There is strong support from within the court system for the need to create legislation which allows equity of access – see the Hon. Justice Strickland’s (from High Court of Australia) recent paper advocating for this.

There is an urgent need for change – young people are suffering unnecessarily, and their families becoming overwhelmed by the obstacles that this system creates. Doing nothing puts young Australian lives at risk.