A teenager who was born a girl but longed to be a boy has been given the legal right to testosterone treatment and begin gender reassignment.
According to the Courier Mail in Brisbane, Australia, the mother of the 17-year-old teenager known as "Spencer" applied to an Australian family court for an urgent order for her child to be allowed to have the treatment after bullying and depression about his female appearance stopped him from going to school earlier this year. Both his parents, who are separated, support his decision to begin testosterone treatment.
Spencer has been receiving specialist medical care for gender identity dysphoria since 2012. A psychiatrist told the court that if Spencer did not get the treatment, he would be at significant risk of self-harm because he now has a gender identity that is "unambiguously male''. After hearing from Spencer's doctors, a Family Court judge decided Spencer was legally competent to give informed consent to the treatment.
The hormone treatment can increase muscle bulk, deepen a person's voice and increase masculine features like making body hair thicker and coarser. In females testosterone treatment also affects reproductive organs by stopping the development of eggs in the ovaries. The treatment will be given orally for two months before Spencer starts intramuscular injections.
The doctor added that Spencer is aware the treatment will affect his fertility and has discussed the possibility of harvesting eggs later – to leave open the possibility of having a child using his own genetic material.
"He is aware that commencing testosterone will not of itself reduce the size of his breasts and he would like to seek surgery at some time in the future to do so."
Spencer's mother told the court he preferred to play with construction toys and workman tools from the age of three. Five years ago Spencer began exhibiting suicidal tendencies and his mother told the court that by 2011 he was too depressed to go to school. The school has since made arrangements for Spencer to have a separate changing-room for sport. In 2012 Spencer revealed to a psychologist that he identified as a male and told his mother he wanted to live life as a man.