Children – medical procedures – gender dysphoria – adolescent found to be Gillick competent

family law casenotes

In Re: Imogen (No.6) [2020] FamCA 761 (10 September 2020) Watts J granted a father’s application for the court to authorise the commencement of stage 2 hormone treatment for his 16-year-old daughter Imogen ([6]). The mother disputed the diagnosis by Imogen’s doctors that she was Gillick competent and opposed hormone therapy.

The court said (from [35]):

“ … a) If a parent or a medical practitioner of an adolescent disputes:
i) The Gillick competence of an adolescent; or
ii) A diagnosis of gender dysphoria; or
iii) Proposed treatment for gender dysphoria,

an application to this Court is mandatory;

b) …[O]nce an application is made, the court should make a finding about Gillick competence of an adolescent. If the only dispute is as to Gillick competence, the court should determine that dispute by way of a declaration, pursuant to s34(1) of the Act … ;

c) Notwithstanding a finding of Gillick competence, if there is a dispute about diagnosis or treatment, the court should:
i) Determine the diagnosis;
ii) Determine whether treatment is appropriate … ; and
iii) Make an order authorising or not authorising treatment pursuant to s67ZC of the Act … ;


d) If a parent or … guardian does not consent to an adolescent’s treatment for gender dysphoria, a medical practitioner … should not administer treatment to an adolescent … without court authorisation. (…)

[38] In circumstances where there is a dispute about diagnosis, consent or the nature of treatment, an application to the court is mandatory (see Re Jamie [2013] FamCAFC 110 (‘Re Jamie’)(…).

[59] In this case, there is dispute about treatment and the form it should take. Whilst … what was said in Re Jamie was strictly obiter dicta, it was well considered … I conclude that I should follow the conclusions of Bryant CJ in Re Jamie …, in respect of the approach to be taken when treatment is disputed. Given there is a dispute about what form treatment should take, this court should determine that dispute pursuant to s67ZC …. [T]he court should have regard to the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration and give significant weight to Imogen’s views …”

Robert Glade-Wright is the founder and senior editor of The Family Law Book, a one-volume loose-leaf and online family law service ( He is assisted by Queensland lawyer Craig Nicol, who is a QLS Accredited Specialist (family law).

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