This article was written by our Pro-Bono legal partner MinterEllison.
At the upcoming Sydney WorldPride festival in 2023, MinterEllison’s ‘call to action’ is Dream, Strive, Thrive. Equality, inclusion and respect started with a dream. We strive to make this dream a reality. When the dream is real, we all thrive.
Brisbane Partner Sonja Read is a health regulatory lawyer with a special interest in emerging legal issues. We met with Sonja recently to discuss her work on seeking treatment for children with Gender Dysphoria, those children whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth.
Sonja, can you tell us a little about the work you are doing for children with Gender Dysphoria?
For many years we have been involved in matters where children and their families have sought access to gender affirming treatment. Over that time, there have been changes to the law concerning whether court authorisation is needed for the treatment of Gender Dysphoria in children. This has created uncertainty for clinicians and children.
Can we effectively say that the work you have done has changed the law in the time that MinterEllison has been involved?
In 2022, we were involved in a landmark decision in the Supreme Court of Queensland. In that case, the Court held that a child who has capacity to make their own decisions (known as a Gillick competent child), doesn’t need the consent of their parents or court approval to have treatment for Gender Dysphoria. This is the current law in Queensland.
Children in other States/Territories still need to get Court authorisation if both of their parents do not consent to gender affirming treatment. This requirement, set out in a case called Re Imogen, applies to all children, even those who are Gillick competent. This means that the consenting requirements for access to gender affirming treatment is different to all other types of medical care.
And lastly, what would you like to see happen now?
I’d like to see a case in the Family Court that challenges the legal reasoning in Re Imogen. If the Family Court was to recognise Gillick competent children as not requiring parental consent, this would make the legal requirements for access to gender affirming care the same as other types of care for children across Australia.
As we edge closer to the Sydney WorldPride festival for 2023, and our 29th year of support for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, Sonja’s work is a great example of MinterEllison proudly taking strides towards pursuing justice and equality for all.