A five-year-old Australian child born genetically male will grow up as a sterilised female after a court agreed to her having surgery. The child, known only as Carla, identifies as a girl but has no female reproductive organs, Family Court documents show. The court approved a request by Carla’s parents to surgically remove male gonads inside her body. People with a combination of sex characteristics are called intersex.


When Carla turned five, her parents wanted to clarify if they needed court permission for the complex and irreversible surgery. The Family Court heard Carla was born with female-appearing genitalia and exhibited “stereotypically female” behaviour, which included never wanting to be referred to as a male and a preference for “female toys, clothes and activities”. Court documents seen by the BBC show medical experts testified that surgery would remove the risk of Carla developing tumours and that she had no certainty of future fertility. The surgery should happen before puberty, they said. The court ruled the parents did not need permission to arrange surgery. The ruling was made in January but it was not immediately made available to the public, The Australian newspaper said.  “I consider the proposed medical treatment ‘therapeutic’ as being necessary to appropriately and proportionately treat a genetic bodily malfunction that, untreated, poses real and not insubstantial risks to the child’s physical and emotional health,” Family Court Judge Colin Forrest said in making his ruling.

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