Noah O'BrienAge 14
26 Jan 2023
Westmead, New South Wales (Australia)
Noah died by suicide shortly after being denied gender-affirming treatment by a gender clinic.
When Noah O'Brien started high school, he began to identify as non-binary.
At 14, in mid-2022, Noah penned a letter to his parents explaining that he identified as a boy.
While the family tried to get Noah the gender-affirming treatment he needed, they came up against seemingly never-ending roadblocks.
Sharing her son's story, Lauren explained the lengths the family went to in their attempts to help Noah, who began to severely restrict his eating in an attempt to delay the onset of puberty – a time that can be incredibly distressing for transgender kids, as their bodies change in opposition to their identity.
Noah was taken to Westmead Children's Hospital, where he was diagnosed with anorexia and eventually discharged with a recommendation he and his parents seek support for gender dysphoria.
That's where the roadblocks began. Noah's mum got a referral from a GP to attend the hospital's gender clinic, which was sent to the hospital in October 2022. But what the family didn't know what that he would be pushed to the bottom of the waiting list because he had already begun puberty.
"We did all we could, Lauren did more than anyone ever could, but we just didn't get any help from anywhere that could help us," Noah's grandmother told the program.
Noah was admitted to the eating disorder unit to treat his anorexia, and it was during this time that a social worker from the gender service visited him. According to an email the program obtained, the social worker advised further discussions with Noah around menstrual management, as his cycles were causing distress.
However, this discussion never happened, it seems, with the hospital reportedly saying that Noah's eating disorder needed to be the primary focus at that time.
Noah took his own life in January this year.
"My husband gave him CPR, and the ambulance and the police arrived about four minutes after we called them and they took him to Westmead Hospital, where he stayed alive until six in the morning," Lauren said on the program.
"That was from about 11 o'clock. So, we got seven hours to actually say goodbye."
"Lauren rang places, went to the doctors, tried everywhere to get help, but it was just like doors were closing in her face. Nobody was responding to her call for help," Rose said of the family's fight to help their son.
"I feel like he didn't get any help or support in making that transition to become a male."