The Family Court case Re: Kaitlin [2017] FamCA 83

The Family Court of Australia has recently published a new case involving an intersex child, this time where the parents sought consent for their child, an adolescent, to obtain treatment for “gender dysphoria”. Unlike in the recent Family Court case Re Carla (Medical procedure) [2016] Fam CA 7, the case was not supported by a “relevant government department”.

The case is entitled Re: Kaitlin [2017] FamCA 83 (22 February 2017). Kaitlin is a pseudonym, determined by the Family Court to protect the privacy of the child. Kaitlin’s body does not produce sex hormones (nor some other hormones) and, despite identifying as a girl from an early age, she was put on testosterone at age 12-13. She was, as happens, non-compliant with that unwanted intervention.

Some extracts from the judgement, which was made by Tree J, who sits in Townsville:

2 … she has not undergone stage one treatment, which comprises hormone blocking, because she suffers from hypopituitarism, in consequence of which her body is incapable of naturally producing testosterone, or indeed, many other hormones.

5. Kaitlin’s statement, annexed to her mother’s affidavit, speaks to her having identified as female from a very early age. She has always resented being characterised as male

6. At about age 12 or 13 she was prescribed testosterone in order to commence puberty. However because she identified as female, her initial expectation was that the hormones would “make everything right, make my breasts grow and I thought I would have a period within the month.” When it became apparent to her that indeed that was not the effect of testosterone, she immediately stopped ingesting the tablets, although she did not initially tell either her mother or Dr W.

19. … because her body was unable to produce, amongst many other hormones, testosterone, in order to undergo puberty at all she was required to take either testosterone or estrogen. It would seem fanciful to suggest that court authorisation was required before Kaitlin could be prescribed testosterone by Dr W in 2014. And yet the effect of that testosterone would have been to irreversibly see her develop as a pubescent male.

We note that non-intersex transgender girls are not prescribed testosterone.

The child in this case should never have been prescribed testosterone in the first place. No-one should be obliged to take hormone treatment for a gender we do not identify with; this is harmful, and increasingly recognised as a form of torture. Instead, the adolescent in this case should have been properly consulted about her needs in the first place, and this consultation should have guided treatment.

If left untreated, or if left with an unwanted non-compliant treatment, Kaitlin would be at risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis.

We thank Kaitlin’s parents for taking this case.

More information

Re: Kaitlin [2017] FamCA 83 (22 February 2017)
OII Australia on “Re: Carla (Medical procedure) [2016] FamCA 7”

We comment on numerous Family Court cases in the “Legal and policing” category – see the link below.