Last Thursday Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson, of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, heard arguments over whether a 14-year-old girl should continue to receive weekly testosterone injections without parental consent. The hearing dealt with a case that has garnered significant media attention over the past five months because of its implications for parental rights, children’s health care, and free speech.
As previously reported, in February Justice Bowden of the BC Supreme Court ruled that 14-year-old Maxine* should begin taking testosterone on the sole basis of her own consent. Maxine’s father, Clark*, promptly appealed this decision, arguing that his daughter’s preexisting mental health issues were wrongly steered into a transgender identity by internet peers and a school counselor. Clark maintained that his daughter needed more expert evaluation, and should wait until adulthood to embark on any irreversible course of treatment.
On the strength of Bowden’s ruling, however, BC Children’s Hospital started Maxine on an escalating regime of testosterone injections in early March. By midsummer, dosages were high enough that Maxine’s voice had begun to deepen, a typically irreversible process.
Meanwhile, the case gathered further attention in late April, when Justice Francesca Marzari declared Clark guilty of “family violence” against his daughter for stating that she is “a girl” in media interviews, and failing to refer to her as a boy in private. That ruling was promptly followed with a special order, placing Clark under threat of immediate arrest “without warrant” by any police officer with reasonable grounds to believe that Clark had referred to his daughter as a girl in public or private. Clark was also strictly prohibited from communicating any information to the media about his case.
According to documents obtained by The Federalist, nearly two months of legal wrangling followed of a similar kind—Justice Marzari continuing to hound Clark and his lawyers for any hint that they might be getting information favorable to their case out to the public, arguing, for instance, that Clark had engaged in “mis-gendering” his daughter via one of his lawyers in a May interview with Rebel Media.
Thus, it was not until last Thursday that the BC Supreme Court finally turned its attention to the irreversible effects of the testosterone injections Maxine has been taking for the last five months. In the hearing before Justice Hinkson, Clark sought a stay on these treatments during the appeals process so the outcome for his daughter’s health might be determined by a higher court, rather than the simple passage of time. Opposing counsel argued that pausing Maxine’s course of treatment would leave her awkwardly poised between a male and female appearance.
After attending the court’s hearing, Kari Simpson, the president of Canadian pro-family organization Culture Guard, expressed concern about what she viewed as the court’s inadequate familiarity with childhood gender dysphoria. She lamented that Justice Hinkson appeared to think that the effects of testosterone injections might be reversed by subsequent estrogen treatments, and apparently did not know that around 80-90 percent of children diagnosed with gender dysphoria leave their struggles behind if allowed to go through puberty without transgender treatments.
“We haven’t seen one doctor in any of these proceedings,” Simpson complained. “The void of information was extremely apparent.”
While the issue of childhood transgender treatments remains relatively new to the court system, a significant number of experts have reviewed Maxine’s case, and submitted affidavits to the court. Endocrinologist Dr. Michael Laidlaw submitted an affidavit in late July. After reviewing Maxine’s case history in detail, Laidlaw was struck by the failure of Maxine’s psychologist, trans activist and author Dr. Wallace Wong (referred to as “IJ” in the affidavit), to get Maxine any adequate treatment for her depression and anxiety.
Laidlaw said in an interview that Wong appeared set upon diagnosing Maxine as gender dysphoric from the start, so rather glibly directed her mental health struggles towards an automatically assumed cure of cross-sex hormones. While Laidlaw did not mention this, it is worth noting that Wong recently came under fire for such behavior when information leaked that he was treating as much as 20 percent of the children in his local orphanage system for some form of gender dysphoria.
Laidlaw indicated such careless behavior was almost invited by the “subjective” criteria used by psychologists like Wong to recommend children for cross-sex hormones. The “poor, non-rigorous, psychological concept of [a patient] being ‘insistent, persistent, and consistent’” about their cross-sex self-identification should be treated with substantial caution, Laidlaw wrote.“For example, I [once] had a patient who was insistent persistent, and consistent that he was the NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant.” This insistence did not change the fact that the patient was not Kobe Bryant, and did not stand to benefit by his doctor pretending that he was.
In a similar manner, Laidlaw argued, patients should not be encouraged to take cross-sex hormones simply because they have, for a period of time, an “insistent, persistent, and consistent” feeling that they are, in fact, members of the opposite sex. Laidlaw expressed particular concern about cases involving children who cannot practically evaluate the costs and benefits of undergoing an irreversible course of treatments involving cross-sex hormones.
“The question for me,” Laidlaw said last Friday, “is how could a 14-year-old consent to a treatment that’s going to make her infertile in the short-term or long-term?” Laidlaw pointed out that most 14-year-olds “don’t want to have kids at that age, and you would hope [they wouldn’t].” How, Laidlaw wondered, could the BC Supreme Court assume that Maxine is fully competent to proceed, against parental concern, with a course of treatment likely to render her infertile?
It remains to be seen how the court will answer such a question, if at all. In the meantime, Chief Justice Hinkson indicated that he will give an oral ruling on whether testosterone injections will continue for Maxine this Monday with a complete written decision to follow shortly thereafter. However, Hinkson cautioned that if he did grant a stay it would only last for a matter of two or three weeks—until Clark’s case is heard by the Appeals Court on September 4.
*Names are pseudonyms.