Last month, Justice Gregory Bowden of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada ruled that a 14-year-old girl may begin receiving testosterone injections without parental consent. Bowden’s ruling, hailed as a “massive legal win” by the American LGBTQNation, ensured treatment would proceed without parental influence by declaring that if either of the girl’s parents refer to their daughter as a girl, they will be considered guilty of family violence under the Canadian Family Law Act.
In a text exchange with her father, Clark*, 14-year-old Maxine* indicated that she felt good about her injections and “will stay on it.” But Maxine’s father, alarmed by the negative physical consequences of cross-sex hormones on children and the dubious grounds on which his own daughter was persuaded to pursue them, is desperately seeking a reversal of Bowden’s decision in the BC Court of Appeal.
“[These injections] will completely disrupt her puberty,” he said. “Her bones will stop growing, her brain will stop developing… and she’s not gonna be a boy. She won’t even have the bone-strength left to be a girl anymore.”
“I will give up everything to try and save her…. I don’t think they understand how much a father can care about his daughter and fight for her,” he said. This means lawyers, affidavits, endless stalling from respondents, and the sometimes mind-boggling prospect of trying to convince judges that your physically healthy 14-year-old daughter should not be loaded up with puberty blockers and testosterone.
A month out from Bowden’s ruling, Clark is yet to get a definite date on which to make his case before the BC Court of Appeal.
Last Monday, however, new information surfaced that may favor Clark’s chances before the bench. Dr. Wallace Wong, the psychologist who labeled Maxine transgender, is facing calls for an inquiry into the conduct of his practice.
On February 28, the day after Bowden’s decision was released, Wong spoke at an event hosted by Vancouver Public Library. In a tape of the event obtained by Canadian pro-family group Culture Guard, Wong is heard proudly describing the scope of his children-only “gender therapy” practice, noting that his youngest client is not yet three years old and that he has 501 orphans and foster kids in his local practice.
If true, this indicates Wong has likely used his relationship with the BC Ministry of Children and Family to diagnose more than 10 to 20 percent of local children in government care as needing his “gender therapy,” according to Culture Guard President Kari Simpson.
In Wong’s own words, his practice began in 2010 with just “four clients at the ministry” but in the course of nine years, there was such an enormous surge of need within that population that he now has “more than 500 kids, [with] just the Ministry alone…. So we can imagine the demand of service is soaring…. The phenomenon is happening a lot faster than – than we expected.”
Simpson expressed outrage at this “soaring” demand, claiming Wong was “gender-jacking” vulnerable children from the Ministry and “profiting” handsomely into the bargain.
Wong also had some startling advice for a parent seeking to get a child referred to his program. Although the questioner had not indicated any particular urgency, Wong explained that parents should exaggerate the severity of their child’s condition to their local health offices.
Wong said a suicide threat was an effective means of accomplishing this goal. While Wong framed the matter as the government’s fault and explained to his audience that it is “up to us as advocates” to change the situation, his message could not have been lost on anyone present.
“So what you need is, you know what? Pull a stunt. Suicide, every time, [then] they will give you what you need,” Wong said, adding that gender-dysphoric kids “learn that. They learn it very fast.”
These words take on a particular significance for Maxine’s case, in which Bowden relied heavily on the opinion of Wong and his colleagues that “continued delay in hormone treatment” was placing Maxine “at risk of suicide.” In fact, Bowden references Wong as claiming that Maxine had already experienced a suicide attempt “linked to [her] gender dysphoria.”
Wong’s freewheeling comments the day after this decision was released may call into question the validity of his assessment, a favorable point for Clark’s case. But Wong was not the only doctor involved, and Bowden’s legal argument still rests crucially on the opinion of experts at BC Children’s Hospital that testosterone injections are “not a neutral option” for Maxine, but a safe and certain means of curing the “ongoing and unnecessary suffering” of her “gender dysphoria.”
Of course, such an opinion would be hotly contested among experts. Pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Quentin Van Meter of Atlanta, Georgia, told the court it was “sheer conjecture,” noting in an affidavit that while, in the short run, patients do experience “a post-treatment period of relative happiness,” available evidence indicates that for most people that happiness dissipates and is replaced, within a few years, with “life-long psychological trauma and increased suicide.”
Whether this opinion or the opinions of Wong’s colleagues at BC children’s hospital will prevail with the Court of Appeal remains a matter of conjecture. In the meantime, Maxine is taking testosterone regularly, and Clark feels that time is running against him.
“[I want] to save my daughter,” Clark stated. “I think a small window still exists to let that happen,” but a few more months of legal wrangling—a year, at most—and that window will have shut. A courtroom victory, then, even if it might benefit others from the standpoint of precedent, would be but cold comfort to a father’s heart.
*Clark and Maxine are not the real names of the father and daughter involved. Their identities have been concealed by court order. Court documents use the initials CD and AB, respectively, and media refers to Maxine as simply “Max.”