British Columbia

B.C. judge blocks transgender teen's gender-affirming surgery after disapproving mother sues

A B.C. Supreme Court judge blocked a teenager from undergoing a gender-affirming double mastectomy earlier this month, granting the child's disapproving mother an order to stop the operation the day before it was scheduled to go ahead.

Mother sued 17-year-old's doctor, surgeon over issue of consent

A building featuring a concrete overhang, with the label "Court of Appeal & Supreme Court" on the side, supported by two large pillars.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge granted the mother of a 17-year-old an order to stop the teen from undergoing a gender-affirming double mastectomy in Vancouver. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

A B.C. Supreme Court judge blocked a teenager from undergoing a gender-affirming double mastectomy in Vancouver earlier this month, granting the 17-year-old's disapproving mother an order to stop the operation the day before it was scheduled to go ahead.

The teenager, who was assigned female at birth and began hormone treatment in July as part of their transition, was set to have the mastectomy last Friday. The mother sued the teenager's doctor and cosmetic surgeon on Nov. 3, demanding they stop treating her child without her permission until the courts can rule on consent.

Justice Shelley C. Fitzpatrick granted the mother's request and issued a temporary injunction blocking the surgery on Thursday, about 24 hours before the scheduled operation.

The CBC is not identifying the teenager, their mother and health professionals named in the case in order to protect the teenager's privacy.

The woman said courts need to decide whether her child has the "mental and emotional fitness" and "maturity" to understand their "condition" and the irreversible nature of the surgery.

In a statement through her lawyer, the mother referred to her child as "caught up in a fad."

She went on to blame SOGI 123 for "pushing depressed and anxiety-ridden girls to gender-change clinics when what they need is psychiatric care." SOGI 123 is a learning resource and toolkit the B.C. Ministry of Education offers to teachers to make schools more inclusive and address discrimination and bullying around sexual orientation and gender identity.

The mother's notice of civil claim said the teen's doctor and cosmetic surgeon prescribed testosterone and scheduled the double mastectomy for the teenager earlier this year without her permission.

In addition to preventing the surgery, the mother is seeking an additional court order to stop the doctor from offering treatment that would interfere with the onset of female puberty, including hormone treatment.

She also wants both medical professionals to hand over records of any and all communication with the teenager, including emails, texts, medical reports and meeting notes.

The injunction around the double mastectomy expires on Nov. 27. After that, whether or not the court has ruled on the issue of consent, the mother's lawyer could apply for an extension or let it lapse.

A similar B.C. case that reached the province's highest court last year ended with a rebuke of the parent who tried to block their teenager's gender transition, though the case dealt with hormone treatment rather than surgery. A B.C. Court of Appeal ruling in January reaffirmed the 15-year-old's right to undergo hormone treatment to transition to male, despite his father's objections.

The appeal judges found there was no reason to strike down an earlier Supreme Court ruling, which found the teen's consent to undergo the hormone treatment was valid.

The appeal court ruling did, however, throw out part of the lower court order that said the father's misgendering of his son constituted "family violence" under the Family Law Act.