A TEENAGER has won the right to switch from female to male over the objection of her father, who claimed she was brainwashed by doctors.
The Family Court ruled the 15-year-old, known as Ryan, was “sufficiently competent” to make the decision despite the father’s protests his child was too young and had been “indoctrinated” by doctors “to push their cause”.
A judgment states Ryan’s mother, who is separated from the father, applied to the court in August for the teen to be allowed to undergo hormone treatment, which involves the administration of testosterone to encourage male characteristics such as facial hair, deepened voice and increased muscle.
At a hearing the father gave evidence referring to Ryan as his daughter and saying she first “expressed thoughts about being transgender” in late October 2016 via text message.
“Before this I had known nothing about this matter. Initially I played along, thinking that this may have been some childish fantasy/phase she was going through, but the more I talked to her on the phone the more I realised it actually was not, eventually telling her we need to talk in person,” he said.
The judgment reads that when the father did speak to Ryan, the teenager refused to answer his questions about “why she wanted to change her name and who had influenced her to make this decision”.
The argument led to the pair becoming estranged.
The father argued Ryan was too young to decide to make “such permanent life-changing decision” and had not been given psychological help.
Ryan was managed by two doctors: Dr P, who diagnosed gender dysphoria, and Dr T, who assessed whether the teenager was capable of understanding the irreversible effects of hormone treatment. The father noted the two doctors were members of associations which “encourage gender diversity and acceptance”.
“Hence I believe rather than treating my daughter’s psychological problems, I believe she has … been brainwashed by these individuals that going transgender will solve all her problems,” the father argued.
Justice Stewart Austin wrote in his judgment that he understood the “father’s alarm at such a fundamental change as reversal of his child’s gender”. However, the court had to decide if the child could decide for himself.
“The evidence of Dr T, in my view, establishes the child does have such competence,” the judge said.
Young people do not need Family Court permission for puberty blockers, which stop them developing into the gender they don’t want to be.
However, they currently do need a court ruling for irreversible hormone treatment.
Justice Austin noted that decisions on hormone treatment had to be made with “sound evidence” which “falls beyond the limits of parental responsibility for a child”.
SARAH CRAWFORD, Herald Sun