Court rejects B.C. mom's bid to delay transgender teen's gender-affirming surgery
A file photo shows a statue inside the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, B.C.
VANCOUVER -- A B.C. mother's legal bid to delay her transgender son's gender-affirming surgery has been struck down as an abuse of process.
Monday's ruling from B.C. Supreme Court Justice Diane Cheryl MacDonald means the 17-year-old can proceed with the chest reconstruction operation he originally had scheduled for November.
"He's relieved today," said Adrienne Smith, one of the lawyers representing the teenager. "Our client is hopeful that he can just get on with his life."
A publication ban prohibits naming either the mother or son in order to protect the teenager's privacy.
The mother, who is identified in the case as A.M., did effectively delay the procedure for months by filing her lawsuit against her son's surgeon and doctor. Another judge granted her an emergency injunction halting the operation just one day before it was scheduled to proceed on Nov. 6.
The injunction frustrated trans rights activists, who noted that a similar case had failed in B.C.'s court system just one year earlier.
But MacDonald ultimately found that A.M. had made "egregious misstatements" to the court in order to get her way.
According to the ruling, the mother suggested she was on good terms with her son and was acting as his sole guardian. Both claims were false.
In fact, the teenager, identified as Y.Z. in the documents, had a falling out with his mother years ago, and was living independently with support from the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
A.M. also shares guardianship with the teenager's father, under an order that they should defer to Y.Z.'s doctor when they can't agree on a health-care decision.
The mother failed to disclose that order to the court as well, according to the ruling. MacDonald noted that both the father and Y.Z.'s doctor support his decision to pursue gender-affirming surgery.
"The court ruled today that on the facts of this case, the mother obtained the injunction improperly because she withheld some really important information from the judge," said Smith.
"We are hopeful this case will send a message that the court ought not be used to improperly interfere in youth accessing trans health-care."
Smith, who represented the teenager along with Claire E. Hunter, also noted that a youth's right to make their own health-care decisions after meeting certain tests is already "settled law," and not impacted by Monday's ruling.
Under B.C.'s Infants Act, minors can make those choices independently of their parents provided that a medical professional deems them mature enough to do so and believes the treatment is in their best interests.
MacDonald said the judge who granted A.M.'s injunction wasn't aware the court had upheld another teenager's right to transgender-specific treatments over the father's objections in 2019.
"There is clearly a broader public debate regarding whether gender-affirming surgery is in the best interest of youth. In B.C., that debate has been resolved in favour of surgery," she wrote.
At the time of the injunction, trans rights activist Morgane Oger said these kinds of cases can be very difficult for the young people involved – and even if they win, they can face intense abuse and harassment if someone on the internet manages to identify them.
Smith told CTV News that Y.Z. hopes his case will bring comfort to others in similar situations.
"My client really wanted other trans youth not to worry, and to know that, in many circumstances, they may be able to consent to their own health-care without their parents' involvement," Smith said.