The Family Court of Australia recently made a Declaration to
award Parental Responsibility to a 17 year old to enable him to
make decisions regarding treatment for his Gender Dysphoria
condition. The question the Court needed to consider was whether
the 17 year old was competent to make his own decisions about a
medical procedure and treatment for his condition.
The Applicant in Issac  FamCA 1134 was born a
female, but for many years had identified himself as a male. The
Applicant would, amongst other things:
Obtain contraceptive medication to try and stop his menstrual
Receive testosterone from his adolescent physician to
masculinise his body
Wear a binding device to compress his breasts;
Appear in public dressed in male clothes; and
Wear 'boys' clothes at school.
The Applicant filed an Application, seeking Orders that he
obtain a Declaration that he is "Gillick competent"
(discussed below) to consent to treatment for his Gender Identity
Dysphoria. In order to do this the Court had to make two distinct
findings, the first being that the Applicant was competent and
capable of making his own medical decisions pertaining to treatment
for his condition, and the second being that the Court has power to
make an Order in relation to this issue.
In determining whether a person is competent, the Court must
primarily look at the Applicant's maturity and level of
understanding regarding the proposed treatment.
In these circumstances, all medical experts had given evidence
supporting that the Applicant was competent to make decisions about
the treatment that he wishes to undertake to resolve his identity
difficulties. This was supported by findings of the Court that:
The Applicant was aware of the changes that would result with
his bodily development – increased muscle bulk, change of
voice, increase body hair.
The Applicant was aware of the affect that the testosterone
treatment would have on his ovaries.
The Applicant had detailed discussions with his treating
physician about the impact of the proposed hormone treatment and
effect on his fertility.
The Applicant was aware of his different medical options, the
long term consequences, possible side effects and the risks
involved in the procedure.
The Court has the power to make Orders giving Parental
Responsibility to any person, including the child themselves.
Therefore, provided the Court was satisfied that the Applicant was
competent to make decisions about any treatment in relation to
gender dysphoria (which they ultimately found he was) then it could
give Parental Responsibility to the Applicant.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
If you are doing a Will, or you are the executor of a deceased estate, consider what taxes and duties could be payable.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).