Transgender teens: A family court ruling has further clarified the legal position for transgender teens and their parents in relation to accessing medical treatment. A teen, known as “Imogen”, has received authorisation from the family court to access oestrogen treatment as part of her transition, despite her mother’s opposition. In the case, the teen’s parents disagreed on consent to diagnosis and treatment, with the father supporting his daughter while the mother argued the teenager was not competent to give consent.
What is the process for transitioning teens?
Teenagers experiencing gender dysphoria feel acute distress due to an incongruence between their gender identity and gender assigned to them at birth. When a decision is made to transition genders, typically adolescents are first given puberty blockers in stage one of treatment. This may be followed by a stage two in which they receive hormone treatment (either oestrogen or testosterone). The third stage is where surgical intervention takes place.
Do parents need to give consent?
Before 2013, it wasn’t possible for either a parent or their child to give consent to any of the three stages of treatment—court approval was needed. In 2013 the family courts ruled that court approval wasn’t needed for stage one treatment. However, the courts would step in where there were disputes. The law was clarified further when the courts ruled court authorisation was not needed for stage two treatments. It was unclear, however, what the role of the court should be in disputes.
Now, the ruling in Imogen’s landmark case means that court approval is only needed for stage two treatments if a parent or a doctor disputes the child’s competency to consent, the doctor’s diagnosis or the proposed treatment plan.
The judge in the case, Justice Watts, said that if the issue was exclusively consent, and a court delivered a finding of competency, the teen could decide on their treatment without further court involvement. If a doctor or a parent disputed the diagnosis or treatment, courts would make a determinative ruling.
The Sydney Morning Herald writes:
“Imogen’s mother had disputed her competency to consent, diagnosis and treatment. But Justice Watts said Imogen was an ‘adolescent of intelligence and maturity’ competent to consent who was correctly diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and the treatment was in her best interests.”
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
You may also like to read our article on transgender kids and custody issues.
If you need family law advice, please do not hesitate to contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Family Law.