A B.C. teenager had his right to gender transition treatment upheld by a Court of Appeal ruling last week, while judges overturned some parts of a lower court ruling restricting the teen’s father’s behaviour.
The case has attracted international attention after the father went to both local and international conservative media outlets alleging that his rights as a parent were being denied by the courts.
The case stretches back into 2019, when the father, referred to as CD, went to court to try to stop his son from undertaking hormone therapy as part of a gender transition treatment overseen by doctors.
The Appeal Court judges found that the teenager, a 14-year-old referred to as AB to protect his identity, can continue hormone therapy. The judges found there was no reason for AB to stop taking hormones, and that his course of treatment could continue.
He has identified as male since the age of 11 and began transitioning to a fully male identity at the age of 12, including using a new name. At the age of 13, he sought out a medical treatment plan with the help of his mother, referred to as EF
However, the Appeal Court judges took issue with lower courts that found the father’s refusal to use male pronouns or his son’s chosen name were a form of family violence.
The court’s new ruling loosens some of the restrictions placed on the father by lower courts – he can now discuss with his son how he disagrees with AB’s decision to start the hormone therapy.
“We consider such a direction to interfere too closely in the role of a parent,” the court said of the reason for rolling back part of the earlier ruling.
The father can also speak to family and friends in private about the matter, so long as he does not go to the media about the issue.
“His 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 ruling reads. “However, we would 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.”
The judges noted that the dispute would not be good for the ongoing relationship between father and son, and advised CD to speak to AB’s doctors, who reached out to the father early in the process, but did not hear back from him.
“CD’s refusal to respect AB’s decisions regarding his gender identity is troublesome,” the judges wrote. “The evidence shows that his rejection of AB’s identity has caused AB significant pain and has resulted in a rupture of what both parties refer to as an otherwise loving parent-child relationship. This rupture is not in AB’s best interests. He clearly wants and needs acceptance and support from his father.”
They also chastised the father for his comments to The Federalist, an American publication, and the Langley-based CultureGuard, an anti-SOGI activist organization headed by Kari Simpson.
“In bringing his concerns to public forums like the Federalist and Culture Guard, CD apparently took no account of the extent to which AB would be negatively affected,” wrote the judges. “Not only did CD continue to disrespect AB’s decisions, he also appeared to be oblivious to the effect of his conduct on AB as well as the very derogatory public comments related to AB posted on the Federalist website.
Simpson has decried the decision on her CultureGuard website.
On the matter of the therapy itself, the court upheld the right of minors to make their own medical decisions when they are fully informed and can understand the risks and benefits.