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Judicial child abuse: The family court of Australia, gender identity disorder, and the ‘Alex’ case

In April 2004, the Family Court of Australia made the decision that a 13-year-old girl, said to be suffering from gender identity disorder (GID), should be treated as a boy and embark upon a course of female hormone treatment to suppress menstruation. The treatment is expected to change to the administration of male hormones at 16, and surgery after she reaches 18. This decision is in line with a developing trend internationally to normalise the phenomenon of sex reassignment. I shall argue that gender identity disorder is a social construction created by the medical profession, and that it is culturally and historically specific. By imposing a diagnosis and treatment that will cause irreversible changes to an adolescent underaged girl’s body, this decision should be seen as judicial child abuse rather than an enlightened decision in the child’s best interests.

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