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A Canadian father who rejects his 14-year-old transgender son's identity and continually misgenders the teen in media interviews has been ordered to stop discussing the matter in the press, with a court saying his actions constitute "gender violence."
"While I accept that [the father] does not agree with [the child] as to what is in [the child's] best interests, he has been irresponsible in the manner of expressing his disagreement and the degree of publicity which he has fostered with respect to this disagreement with his child," British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Francesca Marzari wrote in issuing a protection order in April.
The father, whose name is being kept confidential by court decree, as is the son's, has spoken to right-wing publications such as The Federalist about the dispute over the teen's gender identity. The man has also expressed interest in telling his story to other conservative media outlets, including Fox News and Breitbart. The articles published by The Federalist repeatedly refer to the child as a girl and question the existence of transgender identity, and anti-LGBTQ organizations such as the Canadian group Culture Guard have voiced support for the father.
The media coverage has exposed the teen to "degrading and violent" comments, Marzari wrote. Reader responses to a February 29 Federalist article "include personal and derogatory comments about [the child], including statements that [the child] is mentally ill, and anticipating and even encouraging his suicide," she noted.
The order not only prohibits the father from speaking to the press, it also forbids him to refer to the child by his birth name or as a girl, and to attempt to persuade him to abandon his gender dysphoria treatment.
The father's attorneys called the order "draconian" and said they plan to appeal it, Canada's National Post reports. "We'll make submissions on freedom of expression, freedom of thought and opinion, and freedom of conscience, in this matter," Herb Dunton, one of his lawyers, told the publication.
The teen identified as male since age 11 and has transitioned socially. Last year he began seeking hormone therapy for gender affirmation, with the support of his mother, who shares custody and guardianship with his father. The father opposed the treatment, and it was delayed. The mother and the boy's doctors, however, said any delay was harmful to the teen and increased his risk of suicide, which he had already attempted once.
The teen then sought a court order to allow him to receive the treatment, which the B.C. Supreme Court granted in February. Justice Gregory Bowden, in issuing the order, "went on to declare that any attempts to persuade the boy to abandon treatment, addressing the boy by his birth name or referring to the boy as a girl or with female pronouns 'shall be considered to be family violence,'" according to the National Post.
The father has appealed this order, but the court has yet to hear the appeal. The son and his lawyers then filed another application in court seeking to prevent his father from giving interviews about the matter, leading to the April ruling.
The boy told the court he felt his father was "associated with groups that hate trans people." He added, "I love my father. I want to have his name as my middle name. ... But I cannot be around him unless he respects who I am and my gender identity. It messes with my head, and I cannot stand his berating me all the time."