As the debate rages in the United States over parental notification and authority in cases involving transgender children, the United Kingdom is embroiled in a controversy over a law that would not only limit parental authority in such cases but affirmatively require parents to pay for such transitioning. Under the interpretation put forward by police, parents who refuse to use the alternative pronouns for their children or refuse to pay for their transitioning could be criminally prosecuted.
According to the UK’s Code for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), abusive conduct now includes “withholding money for transitioning [and] refusing to use their preferred name or pronoun.” So a parent with familial or religious objections to the transitioning of a child would be required under the law to fund operations or treatments.
According to the guidance material, this is not even “an exhausted list,” but some of the first “examples” of potentially criminal conduct that comes to mind.
The guideline would suggest that parents with deep-seated religious convictions against transgender status would either have to fund an operation that they consider immoral or face arrest for failing to do so.
To potentially prosecute a parent for refusing to use an adopted pronoun of their child is chilling and wrong. Nevertheless, a CPS spokesperson doubled down with a comment to Fox News that “domestic abuse is a severe crime and leaves victims with a lasting impact . . . This assists prosecutors to ensure that any victim, regardless of who they are, can get justice for the abuse they have faced.”
This follows the erosion of free speech and religious rights in Britain, including English courts upholding the criminalization “toxic ideologies.”
It was Sir Edward Coke in The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628 who declared “For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man’s home is his safest refuge].” William Pitt, the first Earl of Chatham later added:
“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail – its roof may shake – the wind may blow through it – the storm may enter – the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter.”
That no longer appears the case when misusing pronouns or failing to write a check for a child’s transitioning, which will now be treated as the same as physical child abuse. As the definition of abuse is broadened, the state derives greater control and direction over family affairs and relations. Moreover, leaving enforcement to the discretion of police in this “nonexhaustive” list only further undermines this long-standing protection over internal family matters. The question is what the limiting principle will be as the state defines a wider array of conduct to be child abuse. The default assumption of Pitt appears to have flipped in the United Kingdom.