By Samantha-Jane Rose – Queer Officer at ECU Queer Collective
One of the most contentious issues within the transgender community and the wider discourse today is the rights of transgender children. While adult trans individuals face the daily struggle for our civil rights, there are voices that often go unheard, ignored and talked over. These voices are those of transgender youth.
There are numerous reasons for these young and vulnerable voices not being heard. One of the major reasons that stands out continues to be the debate surrounding a child and their ability to consent. It is this inability to provide legal consent that unintentionally places transgender youth, , in a very vulnerable position where their bodily autonomy can be overridden by parents and medical professionals alike with impunity.
It is this inability to consent and the nature of relationships and power between parents and their children that often leads to children being at the mercy of parents. Parents who though often well meaning, will go against their children’s strong desire to transition. I would know, this was my lived experience.
Many transgender individuals find themselves facing a horrifying situation of being forced to endure the permanent changes that come with puberty. Trans-men find themselves having to endure things like periods and breast growth, which to some male-identifying people is often a deeply upsetting and a traumatic experience. The same can be said for trans-women who face the prospect of having their voice deepen, shoulders broaden and the ever-unpleasant reality of male body hair.
Therefore, it is so important that transgender children have access to medical care in the form of puberty inhibitors (puberty blockers), which delay the onset of puberty, and are fully reversible, and enable transgender childern to go through their adolescence without enduring the traumatic and permanent changes that come with male and female puberty.
Evidence continues to show that not only is the procedure safe, it sees the well-being and psychological health of individuals undergoing treatment improve over time. It allows transgender youths to make informed decisions later in their lives without the permanent changes that occur during puberty.
Without the opportunity, dare I say the right, to access puberty inhibiting treatment, many transgender youths will face an uncertain future in which they will struggle to have their voices heard above their parents, their medical professionals, religious organizations and voices with authority greater than their own.
It’s a sad indictment on our societies that those who know themselves better than anyone else, seem to routinely have their voices ignored in the face of strong evidence, which supports them in their medically necessary need to access said treatments.
However, the impact is so much more than our emotional and mental wellbeing; it affects every facet of our daily lives and lived experience. It affects how we form relationships with other boys and girls, it often leads to those key moments in our adolescent lives being something to forget, rather than something to remember.
Graduation, prom and other typically gendered events throughout our schooling become an anxiety-riddled experience instead of the happy and memorable occasions they should be. For me personally, the 2016 ECU Guild Ball was essentially, the formal I never had and my introduction to the world as a woman.
Transgender youth should be free to be themselves, to enjoy an adolescence in which their emotional and mental well-being is the same as their cisgender friends, we owe them that future.
You can access more information and Transgender support services here: