TV & Radio
Transexual man gets permission to sue medical team
AM - Saturday, 20 August , 2005 08:27:00
Reporter: Daniel Hoare - Australia Broadcasting Corporation
ELIZABETH JACKSON: In Victoria, a transsexual man, who believes he was wrongly advised to become a woman, has been given permission to sue the medical team which advised him to have the sex change.
The Victorian Court of Appeal yesterday rejected an appeal by doctors at Melbourne's Monash Medical Centre to overturn an earlier ruling which allowed 37-year-old Alan Michael Finch to sue for what he claims was negligent treatment.
In Melbourne, Daniel Hoare reports.
DANIEL HOARE: Alan Finch had his hormone-induced breasts removed in 1997 and again lives as a man, although he no longer has a penis.
He wants to sue the doctors at the Monash Medical Centre who consulted with him when he made the decision to have a false vagina created.
Mr Finch alleges his treating doctors were negligent in misdiagnosing him as a primary transsexual – a person born biologically male, but who exhibits a female character identity from an early age.
Speaking to AM, Transgender Victoria spokeswoman, Sally Goldner, outlined the process which a man is required to go through before transgender surgery.
SALLY GOLDNER: The minimum in terms of male-to-female surgery is that you'd need to live as your affirmed gender for at least 18 months, if not two years, in accordance with the internationally recognised Harry Benjamin standards, and then you are considered for surgery and there could be at least a wait of at least a year between the time you're approved and the time that you actually have that surgery.
DANIEL HOARE: Sally Goldner says the physical transformation is merely one part of identifying as a particular sex.
SALLY GOLDNER: There's a tendency for people to think that the surgery is a must, and that's not necessarily the case. The statistics from around the world show that on average only 25 per cent of male-to-female transsexuals who transition have that surgery. And I think it shows that perhaps gender is, as we say, between the ears, not anywhere else.
DANIEL HOARE: Last November, County Court Judge Michael McInerney gave Alan Finch the green light to sue the doctors after he found a neuropsychological report – written at the time of his sex change – that described his masculinity as above average.
Judge McInerney ruled that because Mr Finch hadn't seen the report until 1996 he could go ahead and sue, despite the usual six-year statute of limitations.
ELIZABETH JACKSON: Daniel Hoare with that report.
Australia: Court rules in favour of transsexual's legal action