A recent article in the National Post highlighted an interesting question that is becoming more relevant as the acceptance of trans-gendered identity becomes increasingly accepted. The question is: Who gets to decide if a teenager should be allowed to change gender? The competing parties involved in the issue include the teenager, parents who disagree over the appropriate steps to take, and the teenager’s hospital.

Max’s situation

Max (not his real name) is 14-years-old and identifies as a male, but was born female. He told the newspaper “I have a male brain that doesn’t match up with the body I’m in,” adding “It’s like being trapped in a cage.”

Max started to identify as male in grade seven after seeing a movie titled “Boy.” Shortly after watching it, he cut off his long hair, with the paper quoting Max as saying “It just kind of clicked right away.” By the start of grade 8 Max began to identify as male. He started binding his chest, identifying himself by his chosen name. School staff were also notified about the changes to his identify.

However, Max feels his transformation is still incomplete. He said he often remains silent because he does not like the sound of his voice. His mother said he has tried to take his own lie, and at other times as engaged in self-harm.

Max began to see a clinical psychologist in grade 8. A the conclusion of their sessions the doctor came to the conclusion that Max was a good candidate for testosterone therapy. A referral from a family doctor was needed to begin the therapy. His father agreed to obtain this referral. However, Max’s father eventually changed his mind after learning about the irreversible changes Max would undertake, including a change to voice, facial hair, and thicker hair on other parts of Max’s body. There was also uncertainty about whether Max would ever be able to become pregnant If he wanted to. His father told the newspaper, “You don’t just jump into things they can’t change back.”

The positions of the parties

Max, his parents, and the hospital he attends are in disagreement over the most appropriate course of treatment for his gender dysphoria. He and his mother, as well as the gender clinic at the hospital want to follow a plan that would see Max injected with testosterone, which would help him transition from a female to a male body.

The hospital’s stance is that Max is solely responsible for the decision. The father responded by filing an application in British Columbia’s provincial court to block the treatment. The court decided on Monday to adjourn the case for a period of two weeks, allowing Max’s mother time to hire a lawyer. The hospital also stated that under the B.C. Infants Act, that the consent for such a procedure belongs to the child alone so long as their health care provider is satisfied the child understands the nature, consequences, benefits, and risks of the treatment, as well as that the treatment is in the best interest of the child.

Max’s father, who is separated from his mother, disagrees with this course of action. He is of the opinion that it is too early to begin testosterone injections, that the decision is being made to quickly, and that there is no harm in waiting until Max is an adult before committing to such a course of action. He worries that Max will regret his decision, but it will be impossible to reverse.

The father insisted that he was not against Max’s identity of being trans-gendered. The National Post quoted him as saying “I just want to do what is best for Max. And sometimes that’s tough love. He also said “I have no animosity towards (Max’s mother) on this issue. I think we both believe we are doing the right things. And I believe we both have Max’s best interest in mind.”

We will be sure to keep our readers updated as this case moves through the courts.

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