‘Equality before the law’: Landmark decision a ‘step forward’ for transgender children

‘Equality before the law’: Landmark decision a ‘step forward’ for transgender children

21 January 2021 By Emma Ryan
Brisbane

Queensland’s Supreme Court has handed down what’s being described as a landmark decision, ruling that a 13-year-old transgender child can be given puberty-blocking medical treatment without the consent of her father.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that the 13-year-old, known to the court as “A” can proceed with her and her mother’s wishes to urgently access puberty-blocking treatment despite not gaining approval from her father, whose whereabouts remain unknown and has not been in contact with the family since 2017. 

The court heard that the child’s mother had sought to obtain consent on behalf of her child from medical practitioners and nurses acting on behalf of the hospital and health service in providing medical and nursing services to “A” to administer to “A” “medications including Lucrin and/or Spironolactone, “for the purpose of blocking or supressing A’s future natal puberty, and/or reducing the effect of A’s natal puberty”.

According to two separate affidavits from two medical professionals, known as Dr B and Dr C, upon examination the child “fulfilled the criteria for gender dysphoria”.

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In handing down her decision, Supreme Court Justice Ann Lyons ruled allowing the child access to the puberty-blocking treatment is in her “best interests”.

“There will be considerable delay in ascertaining the views of the father in relation to the proposed treatment,” she said.

“Delaying treatment to seek and obtain (the) father’s consent is not in the best interests of (the girl).

“I am satisfied that orders should be made in the terms sought as it is clearly in the best interests of (the girl) that treatment should commence without delay.”

Commenting on the outcome, Queensland president of Pride in Law Dean Clifford-Jones described the significance of the decision.

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Pride in Law is a national LGBTIQ+ Law Association for the legal profession. While our association appreciates there are varying views on the use of puberty blockers for children, it’s important to always put facts and expert evidence above fiction. The expert evidence in this case was clear and the best interests of the child were paramount, he said.

This landmark judgment sends a message not only in Australia, but around the world, that gender-affirming treatment is a matter for experts, families and the child to determine. As was achieved in this case, in consultation with the child, a court should be able to exercise its ‘parens patriae’ power and allow a judge to intervene in the child’s best interests.

This case represents another step forward for our transgender and gender diverse colleagues. Equality before the law is paramount.”

The full decision can be accessed under the citation Re a Declaration Regarding Medical Treatment for “A” [2020] QSC 389.

‘Equality before the law’: Landmark decision a ‘step forward’ for transgender children
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