Australia: Court allows trans teenagers to undergo hormone therapy
An Australian family court judge has given permission for two trans teenagers to undergo hormone treatment, after it was revealed that both teens had self-harmed and contemplated suicide.
The teens, called Sam and Terry in the judgment, are both aged 16 and had self-harmed and contemplated suicide from the time puberty began.
Terry, who is a trans man, tried to cut his wrists with blunt scissors when his period began and was taken to hospital in 2011 when his father noticed scarring on his chest caused by the teenager trying to bind his breasts with electrical tape.
Terry’s consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist, who also treats Sam, told the court Terry was so distressed by his period he “tries not to look at his genitals, due to the distress this causes.
“He is unable to use pads or tampons, describing it as too distressing to place the sanitary products ‘down there’.
“Instead, he prefers to use pull-up ‘nappies’ as they are easier to pull off and on and he does not have to touch his genitals.”
From a young age, Terry spoke to his parents about feeling like a boy, and he refused to wear dresses from age three.
But Sam, who is a trans woman, did not tell anyone she felt she was in the wrong body until she hit puberty.
Sam left numerous suicide notes and self-harmed, at one point trying to cut her genitals.
She developed an eating disorder, became obsessive about calories, and tried to stop her pubic hair from growing in a male pattern.
The pair’s cases were heard together because they both had the same doctors and were both diagnosed with gender identity disorder.
They were both supported by their parents in their bid to start hormone therapy to reverse puberty.
Family court of Australia judge Peter Murphy examined whether the two needed court permission to undergo the hormone therapy, as well as whether permission should be granted.
“The evidence plainly reveals two sets of loving, caring, committed parents motivated solely to do what is best for their respective child who, plainly, they love deeply,” Mr Murphy said.
He added: “Equally, the evidence reveals that each set of parents has faced the very significant challenges posed by their child’s condition with intelligence, compassion and courage.”
He found court permission was needed for stage two of the treatment as allowing it to be solely the parents’ decision could lead to exploitation of the legal loophole in other cases such as parents allowing genital mutilation for religious reasons, or forcing organ donation while their children were under the age of consent.
Mr Murphy took into account the physical risks of undergoing stage two treatment as well as the possibility Terry and Sam might later regret it, but found the immediate risk to their mental wellbeing by not undergoing the treatment outweighed other factors.
In March it was revealed by the Trans Mental Health (TMH) study that 35% of trans people have attempted suicide at least once.
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