Human Sexuality And Parental Rights: The New Normal

May 18th, 2019 | By | Category: Featured Issues, Politics & Current Events

Chuck Colson regularly stated that “what was once unthinkable, becomes debatable and gradually becomes acceptable.”  Independent journalist, Jeremiah Keenan, recently reported in The Federalist magazine a rather astonishing legal development concerning a 14 year old child, the child’s parents and the judicial system of British Columbia, Canada.  It magnifies the bizarre and almost unthinkable developments in the next frontier of the human sexuality within Western Civilization.  It also raises the troubling question of when do the rights of a child undermine parental rights?  In this developing new normal, parents have limited rights, while the state sanctions sexual experimentation and novelty in the name of human rights.  What follows are excerpts from Keenan’s report:


  • Part 1: In March 2019, “the Supreme Court of British Columbia (BC), Canada ordered that a 14-year-old girl receive testosterone injections without parental consent. The court also declared that if either of her parents referred to her using female pronouns or addressed her by her birth name, they would be considered guilty of family violence . . .  Maxine* was encouraged by her school counselor in BC’s Delta School District to identify as a boy while in seventh grade. When Maxine was 13 years old, Dr. Brenden Hursh and his colleagues at BC Children’s Hospital decided that Maxine should begin taking testosterone injections in order to develop a more masculine appearance.  Although Maxine’s mother was ultimately willing to support hormone injections, her father Clark* was concerned about the permanent ramifications of cross-sex hormones. Suspecting that his daughter’s mental health issues might be more the cause than the effect of her gender dysphoria, he ultimately decided that it would be better for her to wait until she was older before she embarked on any irreversible course of treatment.  At that point, Dr. Hursh informed Clark that he would begin testosterone injections on the basis of Maxine’s consent alone, claiming that he had a right to do so under the BC Infants Act. Clark promptly sought an injunction to prevent this . . . [H]owever, a judge deemed Maxine ‘exclusively entitled to consent to medical treatment for gender dysphoria,’ regardless of the opinions of either of her parents.  Further, the court stated that ‘Attempting to persuade [Maxine] to abandon treatment for gender dysphoria; addressing [Maxine] by his birth name; referring to [Maxine] as a girl or with female pronouns whether to him directly or to third parties; shall be considered to be family violence under s. 38 of the Family Law Act.’. . .   Clark [then declared that] ‘The government has taken over my parental rights,’ he said, ‘They’re using [Maxine] like she’s a guinea pig in an experiment . . .  Is BC Children’s Hospital going to be there in 5 years when she rejects [her male identity]? No they’re not. They don’t care. They want numbers.’”


In the past, the majority of children diagnosed by sex-change clinics with gender dysphoria (or gender identity disorder) have ended up embracing their natal sex as adults. Clark referenced recent reports from England indicating that some transgender clinics have bowed to intense pressure from trans activists to fast-track children into hormone treatments.

Clark felt that he could not trust BC Children’s Hospital’s diagnosis: “These activists are taking over,” Clark said, “and it’s not in the interests of our kids.  It’s in the interests of self-promotion and the things that they want to do and accomplish.”

Kari Simpson, head of the Canadian pro-family organization Culture Guard, which has helped raise awareness and support for Clark’s case, agreed that the case had to be appealed. “To leave this unchallenged” would have dire consequences for “other youth who are trying to survive in an increasingly hostile and dangerous society,” she said.  For now, and for Maxine, however, the judge’s decision stands: the 14-year-old will begin taking testosterone against a parent’s wishes on the sole basis of her own consent.”


  • Part 2: In April, “Justice Francesca Marzari of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada, declared a father guilty of ‘family violence’ against his 14-year-old daughter on the sole basis that he had engaged in ‘expressions of rejection of [her] gender identity.’ These ‘expressions’ revolved entirely around his polite refusal to refer to his daughter as a boy in private, and his steady choice to affirm that she is a girl in public. While many might take this to be an honest statement of biological fact, Marzari quoted it as a prime example of Clark’s ‘family violence of a public denial of [Maxine’s] gender identity.’ Marzari convicted Clark of this violence, and issued a ‘protection order’ preventing him from speaking to journalists or the public about his case.  While the main thrust of Marzari’s ruling focused on Clark’s public statements, Marzari also ordered that Clark be enjoined from ‘exposing’ Maxine to any materials that might ‘question whether [her] gender identity is real or the treatments [she] seeks are in [her] best interests.’  This order arose from the fact that, in mid-March, Clark invited his daughter to watch a video of a small-time Canadian conservative commentator with him.  The video contained a section discussing Maxine’s case, which she quickly recognized. She told her father she ‘did not want to watch the video, and went to [her] room.’  This incident, according to Marzari, was a clear case of an ‘attempt to persuade [Maxine] to abandon treatment,’ and, hence, of family violence. What Marzari found particularly egregious, however, was not Clark’s private interactions with his daughter but his ‘continued willingness to provide interviews to the media . . . in which he identifies [Maxine] as female, uses a female name for [Maxine] . . .  and expresses his opposition to the therapies [Maxine] has chosen.’ According to the court, this willingness placed Maxine at ‘a significant risk of harm.’  Marzari argued that the ‘people and organizations’ to whom Clark granted interviews had shown themselves ‘fundamentally opposed’ to transgender ideology, yet Clark ‘continued to support the media organizations posting his commentary with additional interviews.’ This kind of attitude was, in Marzari’s view, justification for enjoining Clark from sharing any information with journalists—or with practically anyone outside his legal team—about his daughter’s ‘sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental or physical health, medical status or therapies.’  The court also emphasized that Clark must not allow relevant documents (petitions, affidavits, letters, court orders, etc.) to come into the hands of third parties not ‘authorized by order of this court,’ or with ‘written consent’ from his daughter.  While forbidding Clark to speak to the public about his daughter’s case, Marzari stated that she was not overriding Clark’s ‘freedom of thought and speech.’ ‘There is no requirement that [Clark] change his views about what is best for [Maxine],’ she explained. ‘It is only how he expresses those views privately to [Maxine] and publically to third parties that is affected.’”

*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.”

How should we process this shocking development in Canada?  Jill Kay Melchior of the Wall Street Journal poignantly ask these questions:  “If your teenage daughter suddenly declares herself transgender, should you assume she’s mature enough to make decisions that will affect her health, fertility and future?  Or could she be influenced by societal and peer pressure?”  As The Economist reports:  “Typically, adolescents first show symptoms of gender dysphoria, the clinical term for the distress caused by the feeling that one’s body does not match one‘s gender, in childhood.  But in the past decade clinics in Western countries have reported that a growing number of teenagers have started experiencing gender dysphoria during or after puberty.  And whereas these young adults used to be predominantly male, now they are more likely to be female.  In 2009, 41% of the adolescents referred to Britain’s Gender Identity Development Service were female; in 2017, 69% were.”  Physician and assistant professor of behavioral and social sciences at Brown University, Dr. Lisa Littman, has pursued a qualitative (not quantitative) study on the transgender phenomenon that relied on interviews with parents, a methodology frequently used in social research, especially involving children.  [The parents she surveyed were generally liberal in attitude.  For example, more than 85% said they support gay marriage, and only 3% disagreed with the proposition that transgender people deserve the same rights and protections as others.]  Since little is known about such “rapid-onset gender dysphoria,” the first step for researchers is to describe it and introduce topics for future inquiry.  This is what Dr. Littman did:  She surveyed 256 parents, whom “she found online, collecting information about the teens’ mental health, friend-group dynamics and social-media use.”  Here is a summary of her findings:

  • Littman found that often these young people may have been driven in part by “social and peer contagion.” Nearly 70% of the teenagers belonged to a peer group in which at least one friend had also come out as transgender.  In some groups, even the majority had done so.  Nearly 65% of teens had spent an increased amount of time online and on social media, and parents reported that pro-transgender YouTube videos and blogs may have been influential.  Further, according to the parents surveyed, 87% of children came out as transgender after spending more time online, after “cluster outbreaks” of gender dysphoria in friend groups, or both.
  • Littman also thinks that some adolescents may embrace the idea that they are transgender as a way of coping with symptoms of a different, underlying issue. Almost two-thirds of the children had one or more diagnoses of a psychiatric or developmental disorder preceding the onset of gender dysphoria; nearly half had self-harmed or experienced some trauma.  The Economist reports that this is consistent with other studies of gender dysphoria when it sets in during puberty.  Some people distance themselves from emotional pain by drinking, taking drugs, cutting or starving themselves.  Littman suggest that, for some, gender dysphoria may also be in this category.
  • Littman also found that declaring oneself to be transgender had social benefits, parents reported. “Among parents who knew their children’s social status, nearly 60% said the announcement brought a popularity boost.  ‘Being trans is a gold star in the eyes of other teens,’ one parent wrote.”  But not all social pressure was positive: One parent wrote that “To be heterosexual, comfortable with the gender you were assigned at birth and non-minority places you in the ‘most evil’ of categories within the group of friends.”  Another reported that “[My child] couldn’t face the stigma of going back to school and being branded as fake or phony . . . or worse, a traitor or some kind of betrayer.”
  • Littman argues for more research and counsels caution. Both parents and physicians are not infallible but neither are teens, “particularly in the almost universally tumultuous period of adolescence.”  Therefore, she maintains, it is incumbent upon all professionals to fully respect the young person’s insider perspective but also, “in the interests of safe diagnosis and avoidance of clinical harm, to have the awareness and humility themselves to engage with parental perspectives and triangulate evidence in the interest of validity and reliability.”

When it comes to gender/sexuality issues in Western Civilization, confusion reigns supreme.  Dr. Littman’s study deals with the parents of vulnerable teens who are in a period of life that is by nature disorienting, confusing and difficult.  She posits a concern that social media, YouTube sites and peer group pressure may be an important variable in teenage decision-making when it comes to gender.  This is a reasonable and worthwhile study that should not be shut down for ideological reasons but explored as a subject for further study.  And when the state seeks to compel certain speech, as it did in British Columbia, the state has become the agent of despotic authorities pursuing an ideological agenda—the result of abandoning God’s Creation Ordinance, which declares, “male and female He created them” (see Genesis 1-2).  The understandable confusion within Western Civilization is not from God.

See Jeremiah Keenan in The Federalist (1 March and 24 April 2019); Jillian Kay Melchior in the Wall Street Journal (10 September 2018); The Economist (1 September 2018), p. 27; and Abigail Shrier in the Wall Street Journal (30 August 2018).

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One Comment to “Human Sexuality And Parental Rights: The New Normal”

  1. Arlie Rauch says:

    Thank you! Appreciated your clear conclusion. This is evidence again that many marriages and families are living apart from God’s designs; in that environment confusion is understandable.