There is an extraordinary case out of British Columbia where a father referenced as CD was arrested after he continued to refer to his biological 14-year-old daughter (known as AB) as “she” and his “daughter” after he transitioned to a male gender. The Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada ordered that the child receive testosterone injections without obtaining parental consent. CD opposed the transition as the parent but he was overruled after physicians at BC Children’s Hospital who decided the girl should receive testosterone injections. The father continued to defy gag orders, including a bar on his trying to persuade with his own child to wait before making such a change.
We have previously discussed how such pronoun disputes (called “misgendering) lead to criminal investigation in other countries like Great Britain.
Previously, in a 2019 decision, Justice Gregory Bowden rejected the parent’s view as largely immaterial:
In view of the established law regarding the right of a mature minor to consent to medical treatment and the assessments of a number of physicians that A.B.has capacity to consent as well as the evidence of his health care providers that the proposed treatment is in A.B.’s best interests, there is no serious question to be tried.
At the second stage of the RJR test, the inquiry is whether the litigant who seeks the interlocutory injunction would, unless the injunction is granted, suffer irreparable harm. A.B.’s father has not demonstrated that a refusal to grant the injunction would adversely affect or irreparably harm him.
After that decision, there was a gag order put into place that barred the father from even trying to convince his son to change his mind:
“ AB, a 14 year old transgender boy, applies for a protection order to restrain his father, CD, from publishing, speaking or giving interviews about this case or about AB’s personal and medical information.
“a) CD shall be restrained from: i. attempting to persuade AB to abandon treatment for gender dysphoria; ii. addressing AB by his birth name; and iii. referring to AB as a girl or with female pronouns whether to AB directly or to third parties;
“b) CD shall not directly, or indirectly through an agent or third party, publish or share information or documentation relating to AB’s sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental or physical health, medical status or therapies.”
The evening of the Bowden’s decision, CD spoke to the Federalist and said “because she is a girl. Her DNA will not change through all these experiments that they do.” He added:
“I had a perfectly healthy child a year ago, and that perfectly healthy child has been altered and destroyed for absolutely no good reason. She can never go back to being a girl in the healthy body that she should have had. She’s going to forever have a lower voice. She’ll forever have to shave because of facial hair. She won’t be able to have children… Sometimes I just want to scream so that other parents and people will… jump in, understand what’s going on. There’s a child—and not only mine, but in my case, my child out there having her life ruined.”
That led to a conviction of the father for “family violence” in April 2019. Furthermore, Judge Francesca Marzari even issued an order authorizing Clark’s arrest “without warrant” by any police officer who might catch him referring to his daughter “as a girl or with female pronouns.”
Later YouTube interviews with the father were removed. In addressing one of those interviews, Justice Michael Tammen of the British Columbia Supreme Court even ordered that Laura-Lynn Thompson to pull her interview and, when she did not, he sent police to her house.
The decisions reject any substantive weight given parental rights. I have long opposed an absolutist position against parental rights in areas like abortion with minors. The use of criminal penalties against this father only magnify those concerns.
I personally disagree with the father in the use of the pronoun if his son has made this choice. I would yield to the child’s preference on how the child is referenced (as opposed to decisions on medical treatments or procedures for young children). However, the question is whether the state should play such a coercive and intrusive role in a family. Ordering a parent not to speak to his child about the issue or arresting him for referring to the child’s biological gender raises very serious parental and free speech rights in my view. I realize that many experts believe that opposing such gender transition is abusive and harmful. I do not discount that view. However, that is a position best left to persuasive rather than coercive means. We can debate this question and many can oppose the use of such pronouns as abusive. Yet, arresting a parent for continuing to oppose such a transition or referring to the wrong pronoun is chilling. There is an utter disregard of the countervailing interests and rights of parents in these decisions.