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Insights

Children with gender dysphoria no longer have to seek court approval to undergo treatment

Parents, minors and doctors are being given their autonomy back when it comes to cases of gender dysphoria. The Family Court has determined that where all three agree, parents will not have to seek court consent for Stage 3 treatment for gender dysphoria in adolescents and adults.

In a ruling last year, the Full Family Court in Re Kelvin [2017] held that parents no longer had to obtain the Court’s approval before a minor could access Stage 2 treatment for gender dysphoria. Stage 2 treatment administers hormones which affirm the minor’s gender identity, rather than the gender they are born with. Stage 3 treatment is surgical.

In this latest case, Re: Matthew [2018], the Court was asked for its consent for a 16 year old, who was born genetically female but identifies as male, to undergo a double mastectomy. The Court has held that it is not necessary to give its consent where:

  • the minor suffers from diagnosed gender dysphoria;
  • the minor is competent to the requisite level; and
  • there is no disagreement from parents or doctors as to the treatment.

The judge held that the treatment was therapeutic, in accordance with Re Marion [1992], which was followed in Re Kelvin [2017]. Despite being surgical in nature, the treatment was found to be therapeutic because the minor’s treating practitioners believed that it would be administered for the purpose of treating a psychiatric condition.

Minors whose parents disagree with their treatment and those who are in State care will need require Court consent before they can undergo treatment. Further, this case does not have the full affirmation of the Full Court as the Re Kelvin [2017] decision did; it is a decision at first instance, and so remains to be tested.

Read more about gender dysphoria and its medico-legal history here.