There are, according to some estimates, 44,000 Australian kids who want to change their sex. That’s an average of five kids in every average-sized secondary school in the country.
Some of those children will be diagnosed with “Gender Dysphoria” (when their sex/physical appearance and gender/sense of who they are don’t match) and, with the backing of the medical profession and their families, will need drugs to block puberty and enable them to become the sex they identify with.
But, unlike any other western country, it’s the Family Court in Australia that decides if they can access the medication.
None of this is talked about much because these kids often face bullying, threats and ridicule so they and their families just keep quiet.
Monday night’s Australian Story (ABC 8pm), ‘About a Girl’, meets one family prepared to go public about the impact of their son, George, becoming their daughter, Georgie.
Renowned actor Greg Stone and his wife Beck proudly welcomed twins into their world 16 years ago.
Harry and George were beautiful, happy baby boys – but, as they grew up, it became clear that all was not what it seemed.
George always chose girls costumes from the dressing up box and resisted Greg’s attempts to introduce him to more traditional boys interests.
Greg says he struggled to deal with his son behaving like a daughter and says he blamed Beck, even unfairly suggesting she had encouraged George’s behaviour because she wanted a daughter.
Beck says she was scared as well but had to find the answers to help George become Georgie and recalls her child threatening suicide if the family couldn’t access the drugs required.
Greg recalls he thought he’d have to buy them illegally overseas because Georgie’s biological changes were moving faster than the Family Court and, at 10, she had the testosterone levels of a much older boy – heralding the irreversible arrival of an Adam’s apple, body hair and voice changes.
“If Georgie went through puberty, it would have been terrible,” Greg says. “We would have felt we had failed and we would have regretted that for the rest of our lives.”
The Family Court ruled Georgie could receive the puberty blocking drugs but forced the family to go through the legal process all over again two years later to get access to the hormone drugs required to enable her to become a girl.
Georgie and Beck are now taking a leading role in a campaign to get the federal government to remove the Family Court from the equation and leave the decisions to medical professionals.
Georgie eventually “came out” as transgender a couple of years ago while she was in Year 10. She’s found great support from her friends but laughs as she describes the “weird” questions she gets asked.
“What sort of underwear do I wear? Do I pee standing up? And the weirdest question of all – does my brother have a vagina?”
But it’s not just about Georgie and even her parents.
One of the most poignant moments in the episode is when Georgie’s twin, Harry, talks movingly of how it impacted on him.
“I fell into a deep depression for quite a few years and didn’t speak up and nor did anyone notice.”
‘About a Girl’ is powerful television – challenging our lawmakers with a moving story of a family prepared to give up their privacy to help others.
Watch a clip from ‘About a Girl’ below.