A 15-year-old child has undergone surgery in Sydney to have both breasts removed to make him (formerly her) look and feel more like a boy, after convincing the Family Court that he was mature enough to decide for himself whether to have the operation.
The child, known in court documents as Lincoln, was born a girl but decided in 2014 to live as a boy. He had his birth certificate changed from “female” to “male” last year.
In an interview with a psychiatrist, who gave evidence in court, Lincoln said he wanted to have the breast-removal procedure, known in the transgender community as “top surgery”, so he would look more like a boy.
“I have a lot of body dysphoria concerning that part of my body,” he said. “(After surgery) I won’t have to wear breast binders every day. I absolutely hate that. I can’t breathe properly. I want to be able to run around. My body shape isn’t even very good in a binder. I have to wear layers of clothing. I want to be able to just wear a T-shirt. I spent the whole of last summer in a jumper. (After surgery) my body will look the way I want it to.”
Asked by the court to describe the downsides of having the operation, Lincoln said: “Expense, that’s a big thing.” But he added: “My Dad will be able to raise the money by selling (something) valuable that he owns.”
Told he would not be able to breastfeed a baby, Lincoln said he would “rather die than have a baby”.
Lincoln’s parents, who are divorced but co-operate on parenting matters, supported his decision to have the operation, which involves cutting semicircles under the breast, removing breast tissue and sculpting a male-style chest. Told that the results might not be as good as he hoped, Lincoln said: “I can have follow-up surgery if necessary. Dr X does it for free.”
Unlike many of the gender dysphoria cases that come before the Family Court, Lincoln has not been living as a boy since he was a small child.
The court heard that it was only in September 2014, when Lincoln was 13, that he told his mother that he felt he had been born in the wrong body. He had undertaken research on the internet and thought he had gender dysphoria.
In the previous year, he had “started to refuse to wear more feminine clothing” and “would insist on getting shorter hairstyles. He also started to self-harm”.
Lincoln saw a psychiatrist about his condition last year. He was prescribed antidepressants to help him sleep, and puberty blockers.
The usual process for children diagnosed with gender dysphoria is to start hormonal treatment to suppress puberty at about age 13, and for parents to then seek the court’s permission for stage-two treatment — where a child is given hormones of the opposite gender — from about the age of 16.
Genital surgery is generally not contemplated until teenagers have reached 18.
Judge William Johnston said Lincoln was competent to consent to the treatment.