Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2017 Finalist Entries

What Matters? Finalists 2017

2017 What Matters? NSW/ACT Year 9/10 Runner Up


We Are Human Too


Castle Hill High School

The world is brimming with social issues – but to someone thought of as ordinary, this mightn’t be so obvious. But those of us who were born different to your average human being – that is, to most of society, anyone who isn’t straight, white, cisgender, neurotypical male – don’t have it so easy. Our lives are political statements.

But it does feel damn good to tick off Donald Trump just by existing.

And I thought, whilst writing down my ideas, which of these issues could I possibly do?

For I am so very passionate about the lives of those not treated equally by society.

But, it came to light in recent months that a possibly life-saving treatment was something I could not legally access until the age of 16; and even then, the treatment must be acquired through months of psychological testing and expensive court cases of which my family, and many other who require the treatment, would most likely not be able to afford.

Because, living as a transgender person in society obviously wasn’t hard enough as it is.

The Family Court of Australia requires transgender people and their families to attend court in order to receive stage two treatment of gender-affirming hormone therapy. Before 2013, it was also required to attend court in order to receive permission for stage one therapy (puberty blockers), but this law has since been repealed. Expert medical advice is required, of course, in order to receive treatment, but Australia remains the only country on the planet to deny treatment without a trial.

Many don’t understand that this treatment is life-saving, that this treatment is required for people’s survival, especially children. Those who have already gone through the “wrong” puberty are most at risk.

For, the suicide attempt rate for transgender people has climbed to 41%; this is compared to the US’ general population’s rate of 4.6% [USA Today].

It’s funny though how most parents’ first words in response to this are “it’s just a phase”.

It isn’t fair to assume that children don’t know what they’re talking about, that it is just a phase. Because almost half of transgender people who are alive today have attempted suicide. And who knows how many we have lost to this horrible event, especially young children. Because children who realise they they’re not the gender that they were assigned at birth realise early on that there are ways to never wake up.

And denying them the medical treatment they so desperately require to keep going is cruel. It is inhumane. It is vile.

Many transgender people have reported the legal costs to be in excess of $30 000, whilst some cases exceeded the hundreds of thousands.

Why are we being held accountable for being true to ourselves?

Why are we letting children die for the selfish belief of others?

Because, let’s face it, what’s really stopping us from revoking this cruel law? (Because, just looking through a fancy list of human rights I just Googled, it seems like it violates a few rights here and there, such as Article VII: Right to Equality before the Law).Oh yeah, I forgot that old, white politicians get to tell me what to do with my body. Sorry for forgetting about that.

Medical treatment is a basic human right, not a privilege, not something anyone has the right to deny.

And keeping a cruel law in place like this at the expense of people’s lives is beyond disgusting.

Because, we are not just a statistic. A joke. A news article. A statement. We are human beings.


Jenna Beck