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Transgender children and family law: new issues

By September 10, 2019February 23rd, 2024No Comments

In Canada, a dad’s appeal is being heard in a controversial case involving a female-born transgender boy and his relationship with his dad, post-transitioning. The dad objects to having been forbidden from calling his new son by his old daughter’s name, nor from referring to him as “she”. But the father was told by the judge:

“Calling the female-born child by the name assigned at birth, or trying to persuade the child not to proceed with irreversible treatments, would constitute ‘family violence’ under [British Columbia]’s Family Law Act”.

As the debates over transgender children and family law continue around the world, the matter is shining a spotlight on how appropriate parental orders should best be drafted when dealing with cases involving transgender children and family law.

Custody of this particular child had been legally shared with the mother, but the father wasn’t told (“as was his legal right”) of the child’s plans to transition, and he only found out when he saw the child in a yearbook photo under a boy’s name and with a boy’s appearance.

The hospital involved in the matter decided on treatment with “the controversial cross-sex hormone treatments” testosterone and pubertal suppressant drugs, and advised the father they’d be proceeding without his consent.

The father went to court to stop it happening, arguing there should be an attempt to treat the child for depression first, before embarking on the irreversible treatments. But the trial judge said the hormone treatments would be in the child’s best interests.

The dad appealed, unhappy that the hospital had been granted such broad powers—it can undertake the specific treatments “and/or whatever other treatment may be recommended [by the hospital]”–“including surgeries such as mastectomy” or experimental treatments which may have life-altering consequences.

The father’s appeal centres on his claim that the orders violate his right to free speech by limiting what he can say, as well as virtually compelling him to support his child’s transition by not allowing him to try to talk the child out of it.

The debate also hinges on whether the child is a “mature minor” under Canadian law. This means they can make adult decisions separately from others, and are believed to be able to think through difficult issues and handle conflict better. The thinking is that transgender children are often undergoing heightened emotional and mental stress, which could hinder their ability to make rational judgments. This would prevent them qualifying as a “mature minor”. And in this case the dad argues his child is not mature enough to decide on something irreversible and that it’s his parental duty to protect his “impressionable” child from choosing to do something which could harm them long-term.

Critics of the trial judge’s decision argue, “The state cannot compel parents to forget their daughters and remember sons in their stead.” And it’s true the micromanaging may be difficult to enforce: It’s hard to imagine the father not occasionally slipping up and using the wrong name or pronoun.  Presumably the child will make the call as to whether an utterance occurred as part of family violence.

Source: Life Site News.

Do you need help with a family law matter? Please call Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Legal Services on (02) 6223 2400.

Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please call Alliance Legal Services.

We took at look at some of the issues around family law and custody of transgender children here.

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