Ethics and the proposed treatment for a 13-year-old with atypical gender identity

Merle P Spriggs
Med J Aust 2004; 181 (6): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2004.tb06297.x
Published online: 20 September 2004

The case of a 13-year-old girl given permission by the Family Court of Australia to begin a sex-change process involves complex issues. Nevertheless, the ethical justification for the decision is not complicated. In this case, it can be argued that the net benefit eclipses concerns about competence, autonomy and the appropriateness of the intervention. The debate this case generated in the media reminds us that one of the essential tasks in ethics debates is to get our facts straight.

  • Merle P Spriggs

  • Ethics Unit, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville, VIC.



I would like to thank Bob Williamson, Director of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, for his helpful comments on this article.

Competing interests:

None identified.


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