Court rules seven-year-old boy can transition to female against father’s wishes
A jury of eleven has ruled against a father who was attempting to prevent his seven-year-old son from being administered puberty blockers by the boy’s mother and doctor.
Jeffrey Younger will also potentially have to refer to his son James as “Luna” in order to affirm the boy’s gender identity. The father has referred to the treatment of his son as “sexual abuse” by the mother, Anne Georgulas. Court documents show that James prefers to wear boy’s clothes while with him and to be referred to as a boy.
”I want you to imagine having electronic communication with your son on FaceTime, and imagine that your ex-wife has dressed him as a drag queen to talk to you,” said Younger.
“Now imagine how you would feel seeing what I believe is actual sexual abuse—I believe this is not just emotional abuse but is the very, most fundamental form of sexual abuse, tampering with the sexual identity of a vulnerable boy.”
James’ mother is seeking to have Jeffrey’s parental rights removed “for not affirming James as transgender” according to The Federalist and she is also seeking to have him pay the bills for therapy and hormone treatment.
While James is not currently being administered the drugs, he could face the potential of chemical castration if undergoing hormone treatment after the age of eleven.
“Every. Single. Day. You have to see your son sexually abused, and you have to maintain your calm. because the courts are not going to be fair to you. And the only way you can survive this and get your son through this alive is to calmly allow your son to be tortured right before your eyes and outlast the opposition. That’s what it’s like,” said Younger.
On Thurs Jan 23, University of Toronto professor of psychiatry Dr. Ken Zucker, a leading international expert on gender dysphoria, and editor-in-chief of Archives of Sexual Behaviour, spoke at McGill University. Dr. Zucker’s presentation was titled, “Children and Adolescents with Gender Dysphoria: Some contemporary research and clinical issues.”
Inviting Dr. Zucker to speak in an open forum was an act of courage, as he is Canada’s most controversial researcher/clinician in this domain. In a recent column for the National Post on the run-up to this event, I summarized the story of his persecution by hostile trans activists and linked to a more detailed account.
Dr. Zucker’s critics accuse him of practicing “conversion therapy,” by which they mean his objective is to prevent his patients from transitioning. But what Dr. Zucker actually practices, as he explained to me in an interview, is “Developmentally Informed Psychotherapy.”
In layman’s terms, Dr. Zucker looks at his patients holistically in order to determine if the distress that brought them to his attention is a function of gender dysphoria alone, or gender dysphoria as one of a number of factors, including issues arising out of family dynamics, autism spectrum disorder, depression, anxiety and so on. If in the course of treatment, it becomes clear that finding comfort in his or her natal sex is a reasonable goal for the client, Dr. Zucker offers guidance to that objective. If it becomes clear that only transition will answer to the patient’s need, Dr. Zucker endorses transition, and puberty blockers or hormone therapy as required.
But any form of traditional psychotherapy is considered to be a form of subversion by many trans activists because trans activists reject assumptions that gender dysphoria is a disorder or even a “distress” requiring psychotherapy. Their watchword is “affirmation,” the assumption that if a young child – even as young as three – says he or she wants to change genders, they know what they want and their wish must be respected, often without any further exploration at all before social transition is encouraged.
“Watchful waiting”—withholding immediate affirmation, giving the child’s parents and professional observers time to assess the depth and putative permanence of the expressed desire—is also anathema to a small, but vocal group of trans advocates. To these activists, Dr. Zucker’s perspective is superannuated, offensive and, in their discourse, “harmful.” It was a given that the announcement of the event would spark protest. It was just a matter of what kind, and how obstructive it would be.
The presentation was sponsored by the “Culture, Mind and Brain Program,” a subdivision of McGill’s Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry. Assistant professor of psychiatry Samuel Veissière, co-director of the program, who headed up the organizing team for the talk, was fully cognizant of the tension that would surround it, and did a great deal of spadework in reaching out to stakeholding organizations like Queer McGill, expressing sympathy for their concerns and soliciting their attendance.
Some individuals from these groups did attend, although McGill Equity’s Subcommittee on Queer People preferred to hold their own alternative “positive space for trans and non-binary students, staff and faculty (and their allies) who would feel the need to gather and be together in solidarity…[with] snacks, tea and hot chocolate [provided].”
The important thing is that protest was carried out on Facebook pages calling for boycotts of the event, and letters to the administration asking for cancellation (the administration did not waver in the face of this pressure, to their credit), rather than in attempts to physically inhibit, or even shout down the speaker. In fact, not a single active protester showed up at the lecture site in McGill’s Neurological Institute-Hospital (“the Neuro”), and those who came to the lecture itself with a view to challenging Dr. Zucker, listened respectfully, calmly voicing their disagreements with him in the extended Q&A. That in itself is a triumph in these days of “cancel culture” and a tribute to the organizers and to the maturity of the opposition.
A trans-advocacy mantra one continually hears from those protesting the scholarship of Dr. Zucker and others with his perspective is “nothing about us without us.” That is, trans advocates believe they have the right to participate in any public forum on this subject, because science, they rightly observe, is never entirely neutral, and has often been exploited to uphold societal values, notably in the case of homosexuality, which was only depathologized in medical texts mere decades ago.
They are understandably defensive about research, however sound by objective standards, that might be driven by unconscious bias. Whether that suspicion confers a right to insert representation of their own belief system into all public forums in which opposing views are featured is debatable, to say the least. Practically speaking, if that were the rule, scholars like Dr. Zucker would find their time slots so reduced in length as to trivialize their contribution.
Prof Veissière addressed these concerns with exquisite delicacy and eloquence in his introductory remarks to the full lecture room:
Two key issues in particular strike me as exceptionally important. These two issues are in fact questions. They are questions about neutrality and advocacy, on the one hand, and questions about who can speak for whom on the other… In recognition of past and ongoing medical injustice, I want to propose—speaking from my own perspective here—that the relevant point here is not so much that science cannot be neutral, but that it shouldn’t be.
I speak as an anthropologist and cognitive scientist now, as one who is committed to documenting and honouring a set of core values found in absolutely all cultures. These are the values of charity for those in need, hospitality to those different from us, and commitment to the greater human good. Charity and hospitality also teach us to engage in forgiveness and reconciliation. These core values are often translated and lived in traditions of loving-kindness..
Given its long and ongoing history of marginalization, the trans community can often feel excluded and harmed when conversations about them are taking place without them. We all need to listen to this point and learn from it. Similarly, when some parents who are doing their best to help their gender-nonconforming child live a good life tell us they feel excluded from the current conversation when they want to ask more questions, we need to listen and learn. When individuals for whom transition didn’t work tell us they feel excluded from this conversation, we need to listen and learn.
This is what I want to invite you all to do together today. Listen to and learn from each other’s diverse perspectives and experiences in the spirit of loving kindness and democracy.
Tucked in between the statistics, graphs and pie charts of his PowerPoint, Dr. Zucker made allusion to certain “trigger” points. One is the widely acknowledged fact in the non-trans academic community that most effeminate little boys are not gender dysphoric, but gay. These desistors— children whose gender preference may be ambiguous in childhood, but who after puberty revert to comfort in their natal sex, albeit with same-sex preference, present a difficulty for trans advocates. Were they really trans to begin with, if they can revert? This begs the question of what it means to “know” you are “in the wrong body.” In his somewhat puckish manner, Dr. Zucker slipped in some zingers. Noting the disappearance of the “butch lesbian,” Dr. Zucker asked, “Is trans the new tomboy?”
Another hot button in the clash between unconditional affirmers and watchful waiters is the looming shadow of “suicidality.” “Better a trans kid than a dead kid” is a frequently adduced trans credo. Here Dr. Zucker pointed out problems in methodology with the various alarmist suicidality studies. Some predictors of suicidal ideation, he said, were general behavioural problems and, for example, being female in a single-parent family. Adolescents with gender dysphoria that are referred for treatment do indeed demonstrate higher rates of suicidality, but then so do non-trans kids who are referred for other problems. This is an area that needs more research and more control groups, he said.
Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria—ROGD—is the most divisive and controversial issue in the debate. The cynosure for trans advocates’ anger is a study on ROGD published by researcher Lisa Littman of Brown University on PLOS ONE, the most downloaded study in that journal’s history. It suggests that for many teenage girls (the great majority of ROGD subjects), identifying as trans is a “maladaptive coping mechanism” for girls suffering from other problems, and its startling escalation expressive of a social contagion. Dr. Zucker alluded to the reception of the report by trans advocates as an attack on trans people and “a debunked right-wing conspiracy theory.”
(Full disclosure: I have met with many of the parents cited in the Littman study as part of my work. The accusations against them by hostile trans activists are absurd and defamatory. Those I met are loving parents, tortured by their children’s sudden conversion and withdrawal from them—a strategy promoted on the websites they are obsessed with—and desperate to help them achieve mental and psychological stability. They are neither politicized nor biased against homosexuality or gender dysphoria. The Littman study, in my opinion, is responsibly conceived and executed, persuasive and grounded entirely in good-faith efforts to understand an unprecedented social phenomenon.)
The ROGD debate hinges on treatment. In The Netherlands, Dr. Zucker noted, the Dutch do longer assessments before prescribing blockers or HRT, so treatment may only begin two years after referral. In Canada, you can be prescribed blockers after 15 minutes. There’s food for thought there, no matter what side of the debate you are on.
The Q & A was intense but restrained.
Standouts: a young woman, a detransitioner who had stopped taking hormones and wished to live in accordance with her biology, spoke quietly and sadly about her experience of being encouraged into hormonal transitioning by therapists in spite of a history of depression. She had experienced suicidal ideation as a result of her experience. She believes therapists should insist that anyone with depression be treated primarily for that, only secondarily for gender dysphoria.
Literally and figuratively on the other side of the room, a young transman countered with “I was mentally ill and also trans,” declaring that if it were not for rapid affirmation and treatment, he would have committed suicide. Dr. Zucker responded that in his opinion an individual is not getting “good quality care” if she or he is not treated holistically. He noted, however, that some advocates are arguing that mental health people should no longer be involved in the transition process altogether.
That’s worrisome for those of us opposed to radical trans solipsism, because what is “argued” for today may well be public policy tomorrow. After all, “conversion therapy” is illegal in some provinces already, and a Senate Bill (S-260), presently in first reading, seeks to have it included in the Criminal Code.
Many of the attendees were academics in this domain. Prof Veissières was gratified in particular that a leading trans positive researcher in the field from the Université de Montréal had not only attended, but engaged in a collegial discussion with Dr. Zucker during the Q & A, and afterward. This was precisely the form of “reconciliation” he was seeking to encourage.
One student spoke to the freedom of speech issue, arguing that even if people feel harmed, higher education institutions exist to accomplish goals that override the putative right not to be offended. Universities must deliberate all sides of issues, so that later “we aren’t flailing making policy decisions.” The Neuro, he pointed out, is not only a learning institution but a clinic that aims to relieve actual harms and sufferings. There’s a cost/benefit analysis to be done.
As you see, the mixed audience raised a gamut of difficult questions, and I think all present felt their minds were stretched in a positive way by the need to juggle their own settled opinions with opinions they do not normally hear in their academic and social silos. Was the young transman “harmed” by hearing the point of the view of the detransitioning woman? Were the many trans allies present harmed by the opinion that freedom of speech in universities should take precedence over the wish not to be offended? I saw no evidence of that, and I hope all those present would agree that the space was “safe” for everyone.
If you have read this far, I congratulate you on your stamina and thank you for your patience. I have gone on at such length, because although McGill’s administration stood fast on this invitation, I have seen enough of the correspondence around the event between and amongst trans stakeholders in the McGill community to fear that wheels have been set in motion with a view to formal internal roadblocks that would preclude further invitations to speakers whose views do not align with those of gender-fluidity theorists. I therefore wanted to be on record in a detailed way as a witness to the success of the program.
Two attendees referred to Dr. Zucker’s presence as “provocative.” The logic in applying the word “provocative” is circular. Basically, it means, “We, trans advocates and allies, do not approve of Dr. Zucker’s findings or conclusions or clinical principles because some of them conflict with our preferred understanding of the phenomenon of gender dysphoria. We cannot prove that our findings are more scientifically viable than his, but since his are offensive to us, they must be “provocative” in general.
This is the Humpty-Dumpty school of rhetoric. It is professionally feckless, not to mention an unworthy smear of Prof Veissière, whose compassion for gender-dysphoric people is palpable, and whose invitation to an ultra-accredited colleague to speak on the issue was issued in good faith.
Moreover, there is debate within the trans community itself overdiagnosis and treatment, and many non-ideological trans people find such “provocative” opinions as Dr. Zucker’s both reasonable and admirable. Where children’s interests are at stake, the precautionary principle should never be considered offensive. “Provocative” should be reserved for hatemongers, or speakers of dubious accreditation in spouting demonstrably fallacious theories (an accusation often directed at gender theorists themselves, but without attempts to de-platform them on that account).
Beyond suggesting that Dr. Zucker’s ideas are both wrong and dangerous, there is a further dimension to the word “provocative” that I think most people outside the trans movement find disturbing.
The trans movement has worked very hard to normalize the concept of gender fluidity. Transgenderism is often wrongly conflated with homosexuality. But living happily gay does not involve bodily changes, lifelong medication or surgery to produce psychological comfort with one’s biology or gender.
As a consequence of accepting that gender transitioning is normal, however, one must accept easy and immediate affirmation, and everything that goes with it—puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, surgeries, infertility—as normal too. If society, in general, accepts this premise, then parents who wish to slow down this allegedly normal process may legitimately be labelled obstructive. Their stubbornness in resisting rapid affirmation may be labelled “provocative” as well.
As a result, prudent and protective parents—what I would call “normal” parents – are often positioned as enemies of the child—and their status as enemies is often communicated to the child. The isolated child finds a new family amongst the many trans allies only too happy to welcome him or her into the fold. The distress of parents caught up in this Kafkaesque nightmare, as I learned firsthand from interviewing parents of ROGD teenagers, cannot be overstated.
Observers in the public are extremely uneasy about this situation. They know very well that true gender dysphoria is quite rare. But they also know that in the present cultural climate, it is increasingly difficult to find a therapist or educator who does not recommend instant affirmation. They feel they will be vilified for stating the obvious in what they wish for their children.
They know, and so do we all that: it is preferable to be comfortable in your own body than uncomfortable; it is preferable to expend one’s mental energies on the world around one than to be constantly mentally consumed by one’s gender identity; it is preferable to live a life free of daily hormone ingestion and not at risk for their negative side effects than to be condemned to a lifetime of them; it is preferable to know that having children or not will be an informed adult choice than a choice made for you when you are incompetent to understand its ramifications; it is preferable to live life in a whole body than in a mutilated one; it is preferable to have uncomplicated sexual relations as an adult than complicated.
All parents want to see their children following the path of least resistance to health and happiness. Thus, all these statements being so evidently true, they ought to be considered banal. But today—because it is “provocative” – they must not voice these banalities. They are afraid, reasonably so, that they will be labelled transphobic.
Sadly, we now see parents who pretend for the sake of “wokeness” that it is a matter of indifference to them whether their child is comfortable in his or her natal sex or prefers to transition. We even see parents who establish an artificial environment of gender neutrality to create a level playing field between the two outcomes. They win fawning plaudits from a vocal band of activists, but the silent majority of people are appalled by such social engineering, the use of one’s own children as gender-theory lab rats
This is why many of those who can afford to turn to Dr. Zucker for guidance when their children show signs of gender confusion, which may be transient or early evidence of homosexuality, or which may be signs of genuine and permanent self-identification as the opposite sex. They know he will allow them to express their preference and their fears without judgment, but if it turns out to be necessary, will help them to accept what they fear with empathy.
I walked down the mountain from The Neuro to Sherbrooke St with Dr. Zucker after the event, and we held an informal post mortem of it. That it was not cancelled was in his eyes a “good outcome.”
We both mused on the strangeness of trans activists’ demands that they be part of every presentation regarding gender dysphoria. Their slogan, “nothing about us without us” suggests that researchers are talking about “them” as individuals rather than the phenomenon of gender dysphoria. To my mind, there’s a certain narcissism in such an absurd implication. Anorexics do not demand to be given equal time with anorexia researchers in the public forum. Neither do people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, even though in the past science was not particularly kind to them either.
Dr. Zucker treats children from toddlerhood on. Exploration of all contributing factors is extensive and as leisurely as necessary. He says occasionally a therapeutic breakthrough can turn on a dime. In one case, as an example, the underlying issue for the girl – a natal female expressing the wish to transition to male – was a conflict with her abusive father. Her epiphany came one day when Dr. Zucker asked her, “If you are afraid of your father, why do you want to be the same gender as he is?” This brought her up short, he said, and she was silent. The next day, she told him she had decided she wanted to remain a girl.
I asked him how many of his patients resolved their distress without a need for transitioning, and ended up identifying with their natal sex. As if he knew that question was coming—he surely must have known—Dr. Zucker briskly replied, “eighty-eight percent.” It is probably just as well that the question and the “provocative” answer did not arise in the Q&A.
Not a week goes by when Jessica Yaniv isn’t in the news for committing a crime or doing something so morally abhorrent it might as well be criminal to do so.
Yaniv’s deplorability is depthless. Yet despite the wall-to-wall coverage of Yaniv’s activities both online and in the real world, the self-described “trans rights activist” has managed to elude any serious repercussions from the law.
Writing for Human Events, I previously described Yaniv’s attempts to manipulate the law as state-enforced sexual assault. I stand by it. Yaniv, who is male-to-female transgender, attempted to subvert law enforcement to do her bidding by taking them to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and essentially trying them for anti-trans bigotry when they refused to provide their genitalia-waxing services, male-bodied transgender persons.
Despite eventually losing the case, the legal ramifications to Yaniv were minimal and Yaniv has only gotten worse since then—and the lack of any severe repercussions has only emboldened her misbehaviour.
Not only has Yaniv tried to subvert the law to force women to wax her male genitalia—she’s now using the law to try and silence her detractors. She made false allegations of sexual assault on The Post Millennial’s Amy Eileen Hamm, who has brought a civil suit against Yaniv.
She also assaulted Canadian journalist Keean Bexte. One might hope that the time she spends roaming about in a motorized scooter will soon come to an end as she was finally arrested over the assault. The footage of the attack was caught on camera, which should be an open and shut case for any prosecutor in the B.C. courts.
That isn’t the only felony charge Yaniv faces, either—having previously been charged for possessing illegal weapons, which she proudly flaunted (and arguably used to threaten) YouTuber Blaire White during a live-streamed interview late last year.
Yaniv has proven herself dangerous to young people. The Post Millennial has profiled in detail allegations by a young woman who alleges that years prior to attaining notoriety over the “wax my balls” scandal, Yaniv—then going by the name Jonathan—had attempted to sexually exploit her when she was underage.
Observers, including myself, remain skeptical that Yaniv will see any actual jail time. Her actions would have landed anyone else behind bars long before now.
Why is it that Yaniv can escape the long arm of the law? A public menace, Yaniv enjoys unspoken protections from the law—not merely as someone who identifies as transgender but as a transgender activist, who makes every action taken against her an action that weighs against the trans rights movement as a whole.
Indeed, the LGBT-friendly media—at least in the form of the internationally read PinkNews came to the apparent defence of the accused child sex predator and public menace. As Celine Ryan detailed for The Post Millennial, the progressive publication chose instead to smear Blaire White, who has been outspoken in her criticism of Yaniv.
Unlike Yaniv, White is openly conservative and doesn’t regard herself as any sort of “trans activist.” In other words, White isn’t the right kind of trans. Yaniv, a colossal fruitcake and aggressively woke social justice activist is everything publications like PinkNews look to champion.
Labels, to some, matter more than substance—and therein lies the problem with those in law enforcement who care more about optics than they do about meting out justice. Just as no plan survives contact with the enemy, no politician, judge, or police officer who acts against Jessica Yaniv is going to emerge unscathed due to the protection she is afforded by the privilege of the labels she wears.
There’s nothing just about social justice.
The New York Times endorsement of both Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar for president has been lauded and critiqued, but no take is quite as inane and Lauren Duca’s. Writing for The Independent, Duca takes an essential tack linking womanhood with virtuosity, love, nurturing, and maternal values. These are what Duca believes we need in the highest office, and apparently qualities which are the purview of women at large.
Duca believes that women will bring “unconditional love” to the conference table. She thinks women have less greed and avarice, and that while “the divine feminine is beyond that binary, best understood as the force of nurturing,” gender is a social construct.
It’s surprising that both of these views can exist concurrently within one cohesive ethos. Gender isn’t real, apparently, because it’s made up by society to sell us prescribed notions for what men and women are, but femininity brings with it a form of divinity that is localized within women and those who believe they are women, even though womanhood isn’t really anything specific. Are we all clear? No?
Duca opines: “America, as it stands, is not even pretending to be a free country. We are living in an oligarchy structured by the hierarchy of the white, supremacist patriarchy, and this is where toxic masculinity has led us.”
How can a person of such privilege, who gets to write for fancy platforms, teach adjunct classes, and traipse around the world on tour for a book that doesn’t even sell any copies, claim that America is not a free country? How can a person who has benefited so greatly precisely because of her status as an identitarian grievance monger make the assertion that we live in a white supramacist oligarchy? Isn’t this all getting a little old?
Under the guise of elevating women, Duca puts them right back in their place. Probably she thinks she’s lifting women up by saying that they can achieve world peace and stop World War 3 before it’s begun in a way that men, with their penchant toward toxicity, haven’t been able to do. If men aren’t better suited to office on the basis of their sex, then neither are women. Sex isn’t a characteristic upon which votes should be based.
If a woman were elected on the basis of her sex, and she didn’t magically fix all the social ills with one SCOTUS nom and a few passes of her magical bill signing pen under the light of the full moon in the Rose Garden, how could the US ever justify electing another? Women are fallible, not magical. Y’know, just like other people.
Women are people, with aspirations, faults, wishes, wills, and a drive to succeed. To count them as anything other does their humanity a disservice. Duca writes: “I think it makes a difference if the person at the helm of this transformation is a woman, because of the lessons learned by anyone who has a female perspective on our crisis of toxic masculinity.”
But that doesn’t actually mean anything.
Duca, of course, has been a longtime culture warrior on the woke side—a true believer who has offered up hot take after hot take espousing the most incoherent of woke talking points like “Sean Spicer’s Emmys Cameo Wasn’t a Joke—It’s Dangerous,” or “Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America.”
Duca then had her own turn in the barrel, when her entire NYU class revolted because she was not woke enough. Apparently she hasn’t learned the lessons that you can never be woke enough, and that the woke will devour themselves in the end.
Counselling your child against serious health risks of changing gender not 'family violence': BC court ruling
Lawyer John Carpay is President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF.ca), which intervened in the BC Court of Appeal in the case of AB v. CD.
In the case of AB v. CD, the BC Court of Appeal has allowed a 15-year-old female-born minor to continue receiving puberty blockers and testosterone, which will likely lead to the irreversible destruction of the minor’s sexual function and fertility.
The Court has deemed AB to be sufficiently mature to consent to the risks of taking testosterone, about which the BC Children’s Hospital has warned: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, decreased good cholesterol (HDL), increased bad cholesterol (LDL), emotional change (anger and irritability), and vaginal abrasions and tears.
The Hospital warns that the body sometimes converts testosterone to estrogen, which may increase the risks of ovarian, breast, cervical and uterine cancer. The Hospital states that the long-term effects of testosterone and puberty blockers on younger adolescents are unknown, and that the safety of testosterone is not fully understood. Girls who take puberty blockers and testosterone will develop into adults who may look and sound like men, but lack male genitalia. Even after gender re-assignment surgery, as adults they will not be able to father children. Nor will they likely be able to get pregnant and bear children, with natural female sexual maturity having been prevented. CD, who is the father of AB, is devastated.
Neither the lower courts nor the Court of Appeal have grappled with the compelling evidence showing that gender identity confusion usually goes away by itself. The vast majority of boys and girls revert to identifying with their natal sex by the time they are 18, if they are allowed to go through puberty naturally and receive appropriate encouragement and support to embrace biological reality. With psychological counseling instead of hormones and drugs, the success rate ranges from 70 percent to 90 percent, depending on which of the many studies that one relies on. This has been demonstrated by Dr. Kenneth Zucker and Dr. Susan Bradley, who ran the Child Youth and Family Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) in Toronto from 1981 to 2015, successfully treating hundreds of children struggling with gender dysphoria.
The courts have also failed to take heed of a 2011 Swedish study of 324 sex-reassigned persons (191 male-to-females, 133 female-to-males), which shows that the long-term outcome of such treatments resulted in life-long psychological trauma and increased chance of suicide. Even in a progressive and socially liberal country, the suicide rate in these patients was 19 times higher than the general population, as these individuals passed through a post-treatment period of relative happiness but then began to experience significant morbidity and regret. Across the world, a growing number of transgender adults are warning that gender re-assignment surgery has brought them inexorable misery.
Without delving into these concerns, the Court of Appeal has confirmed that deference must be given to healthcare professionals, whose decisions made under the BC Infants Act about whether minors are able to consent to particular treatments, and whether those treatments are in their best interests, are only reviewable by the courts in very limited ways. Yet many of these health practitioners are on an affirmation-only bandwagon, or are afraid to speak out against it. This ensures that many young teens are moved along a path toward transition as soon as they step into a “gender identity clinic.” Parents with serious concerns about social contagion, or other mental health concerns prompting their child’s sudden desire to transition, will find little comfort in this ruling. Hopefully a future case will put evidence of these concerns before the courts.
The small silver lining on this very dark cloud has come by way of this Court now modifying the lower court rulings that drastically restricted CD’s parental rights and his freedom of expression.
Justice Gregory Bowden of the BC Supreme Court issued an Order that CD could not attempt to persuade his female-born child to pursue any treatment other than puberty blockers and testosterone. Justice Bowden further ordered CD not to address his child by the child’s birth name, or to refer to his female-born child as “she” or “her” in any conversation with anyone. Justice Bowden went on to declare that violating these draconian measures would constitute “family violence” under BC’s Family Law Act.
The BC Court of Appeal overturned this order in part, ruling that “there was insufficient evidence in the unique circumstances here to ground a finding of family violence—that is, emotional or psychological abuse—as defined in the Family Law Act.” The Appeal Court added that Justice Bowden “raising the issue of family violence in the context of this case caused the parties to become increasingly polarized in their positions, thus exacerbating the conflict and raising the stakes in the litigation. We see none of this to be in AB’s best interests.”
The father is now once again entitled to communicate his views about the risks and dangers of AB’s current treatment to AB. The Appeal Court noted that AB is a mature minor with capacity to make medical treatment decisions, and this capacity “includes the ability to listen to opposing views.” AB’s capacity to consent does not remove all parental involvement from medical decisions: “Parents can be involved in the process of explanation, instruction and advice leading to the obtaining of the informed consent of the child. They should be involved as part of that process wherever possible.”
Regarding CD’s freedom of expression, the Appeal Court noted that “the values underlying the right to freedom of expression include finding the truth through the open exchange of ideas, which extends to protecting minority beliefs that the majority regard as wrong or false.” However, the Court also ruled that the father’s right to express his opinion publicly and to share AB’s private information to third parties “may properly be subject to constraints aimed at preventing harm to AB. The Court will not restrict “CD’s right to express his opinion in his private communications with family, close friends and close advisors, provided none of these individuals is part of or connected with the media or any public forum, and provided CD obtain assurances from those with whom he shares information or views that they will not share that information with others.”
While AB continues to receive testosterone injections, this Appeal Court ruling at least shows greater respect for freedom of expression and for parental rights than did the lower courts. But it’s a small victory in the overall context of this sad case.