Australian Story By Janine Cohen
Transgender teenagers are risking their lives to buy hormones on the black market so they can transition, because they cannot access the Family Court, advocates say.
“Kids who I have talked to who want to buy the medication on the black market, they can’t go to court. It’s either going to take too long, or they can’t afford it, and they have decided that this is their best chance,” teenager Georgie Stone says.
Transgender adolescents must go to the Family Court of Australia to be assessed as to their competency to consent to medical treatment.
Australia is the only jurisdiction in the world with this requirement.
Georgie, 16, told Australian Story about her ordeal of racing against the biological clock to get court orders.
She said she understands why some teenagers buy hormones on the black market, rather than go through puberty.
Director of Gender Service at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, Associate Professor Michelle Telfer, said she has had patients who have bought hormones illegally because they could not access the court system.
“Sometimes that has actually placed them at quite high risk, because the medication you get through the internet is not the correct dose, and it’s often a combination of different hormones that have effects that can cause problems like blood clots, strokes, pulmonary emboli — really serious life-threatening complications,” she said.
Georgie, who has supportive parents, still found the court system very difficult to navigate.
At one point her parents had no money to go to court and had to go cap-in-hand, searching for lawyers who would take on the case pro bono.
In the meantime, Georgie’s biological clock was ticking and she was in danger of hitting puberty, which meant she would develop masculine features.
“If my voice started to break, that would completely change my life,” she said.
“I wouldn’t be the female that I always wanted to be. I wouldn’t be taken on face value anymore. I would have wanted to kill myself.”
Her father Greg was considering going overseas and buying the hormones illegally.
“If Georgie went through puberty, it would have been terrible, we would have failed,” he said.
Georgie just made it to court in time, and at 11, she was the youngest person in Australia to be granted pubertal suppression.
With her parents, Rebekah Robertson and Mr Stone, Georgie then appealed the Family Court’s jurisdiction to approve treatment for all transgender children.