You cannot get married in Canada unless you are 16 years old, and in most provinces that is only with parental consent. The "full age of consent" is held to be 18 or 19, depending on the province, the age at which point neither parents or a court may stop you.
Have you ever wondered why that is? Why don't we take a 13-year old's word for it when she says she is madly in love with her boyfriend and their life together will be a trip to the moon on gossamer wings? Simple. We understand that a child of 13 is too young and unformed to make such a momentous life decision. The law protects children from the potential bad consequences of their own naiveté, and trusts parents to execute good judgment in the grey area between childhood and full independence.
Imagine if there were no age restrictions at all for marriage. Hmm.
I believed I was in love with the 19-year old head canoe tripper at summer camp when I was 13. I was utterly persuaded that my adoration was a forever feeling. Say he had felt the same (in fact, he knew of my crush, but treated me as the child I was. He very kindly allowed me to paddle bow in his canoe, the full extent of his reciprocation). Say he asked me to marry him.
Say further that:
- all the professionals my parents consulted told them I might commit suicide if they didn't affirm my wish;
- my parents were further cowed by a Young Marriage Advocacy Movement sweeping the culture that asserted teens of 13 had the capacity to assess the durability of a lifelong commitment and that it was "family violence" to try to dissuade them;
- all my teachers were applauding me and telling me how brave I was;
- dedicated Internet sites were bombarding me with "friendship" for my decision, and the national broadcaster and other media allies of the Young Marriage Advocacy movement were constantly exhorting my parents to show their love by supporting me enthusiastically;
- many of my peers were tying the knot and posting photos of themselves disporting themselves in their gorgeous Sandals honeymoon cabanas on Instagram;
- all the excitement and affirmation I received was blocking out the emotional turmoil I was experiencing for reasons that had nothing to do with my feelings for that guy:
Why then, I would probably have skipped to the altar with a song in my heart.
Oh, and let's add into this hypothetical scenario a society in which divorce is rare, expensive, difficult to get and widely disapproved of. In other words, once the commitment is made, reversing it is a lonely, dauntingly difficult process.
The above scenario isn't crazy talk, and my regular readers have already guessed where this is heading. Substitute for "madly in love" a teenager's rapid-onset belief, with no previous indications of gender dysphoria, that she is not really a girl, but was meant to be a boy, and for "marriage" substitute a fast-tracked medical transition to self-presentation as a boy.
Now factor in an aggressive, well-organized unscientific gender-fluidity movement whose tenets have penetrated and now guide our institutions of pedagogy (through controversial resource materials provided to schools like SOGI 123 used in most BC school districts), medicine, therapy and justice. Any parent trying to stand up against that ideological wall is King Canute trying to hold back the tide.
That parent can sit his teenager down and explain until he is blue in the face that taking puberty blockers, and then cross-sex hormones (the first pretty well invariably leads to the second) will alter her body in ways that are irreversible. The principle risk in taking these drugs, he would tell her, thinking this was his trump card, is permanent infertility.
Telling her all this will be futile, because she has been primed to believe that her dissenting parent is her enemy, and does not have her best interests at heart. She will tell that parent she is 100 percent sure of her decision, and the matter is settled. After all, what does a 13-year old know about how she will feel at 30? Inability to see around life's corners and a tendency to absolutism are primary traits of immaturity. That's why humans spend so many years more than all other animals living under their parents' protection. When the state allows them to.
You may have read in these pages or elsewhere the story of a courageous, separated father in British Columbia, who has refused to drink the Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) Kool-Aid with regard to his teenage child. A gag order prevents his name being mentioned in Canadian publications (although with no difficulty at all, you will find it in U.S. outlets), so the principals in the case are referred to as C.D. (father) and A.B (child).
A.B is now 15, and, supported by the mother and medical advocates, began taking testosterone at the age of 14 against the wishes of C.D., who had asked for guardianship rights, because he well understands the risks associated with medical transitioning and believes his child was not equipped to give consent to embarkation on this perilous venture. A court told him that he was perpetrating "family violence" by refusing to address his biological daughter by her chosen male name and pronouns.
C.D. has broken the gag orders, because he is outraged that his parental rights have been abused. He is facing three counts of criminal contempt of court. He had his first hearing Sept 2 (where— although this was not a criminal trial— he was humiliatingly seated in the Prisoner's Box rather than in the public section, which was his right), and his next will be Nov 30. He might incur no penalty, a suspended sentence, a fine, prison or both, depending on the court's sympathy for him, or lack thereof. If past is prologue– and the Prisoner's Box is a pretty good metaphor for it— he should not expect much.
C.D.'s Vancouver lawyer, Carey Linde, stated in a press release that he could find "no example of a parent in a family matter being found in criminal contempt of court" for breaching a gag order, as opposed to the norm of civil contempt. According to Linde, "The father will tell the court he knowingly breached the orders in full knowledge and expectation of punishment including imprisonment. He believes parents of young girls need to be warned of the known risks to the physical and emotional harm from the school’s SOGI programs, doctors at the gender clinic at Children’s Hospital Vancouver and social justice activists."
C.D. is eager to have his day in court, because it will be the first time he will have had an opportunity to tell the world his side of the story. As he has said before, "this [battle] has never been about my daughter." He will use the occasion to air his grievances on specific ideas and beliefs, and in effect put trans ideology on trial.
First, he will attempt to educate the court on the phenomenon of ROGD as a social contagion, which so far no court has seriously interrogated. He will also speak about SOGI as a recruitment and indoctrination program. Linde will argue that C.D.'s act of "civil disobedience" is justified, as his Charter rights have been breached in refusing him permission to name people he holds responsible for enabling harm to his daughter. He will also criticize the application of section 7 of the 1993 Infants Act to cases like this one, a novel situation its framers could not have anticipated. (It allows doctors or courts to supersede parents’ wishes in matters related to children's health, but was conceived to support a teenager’s use of the Pill to prevent pregnancy, not to be pumped full of off-label hormones with irreversible effects in perpetuity.)
This is an important case, and people who really care about protecting vulnerable adolescents should be cheering him on. The state's and the judicial system's fascination with an unscientific theory they have not troubled themselves to investigate with an open mind have led them into collision with parents' natural right to protect their children from demonstrable harms.
Noteworthy: If C.D. and his wife had not been separated, the state would not have been called in to adjudicate this matter. They would have thrashed it out in the privacy of their home, and they would have made a joint decision both could live with. That they are not living together should not have nullified the father's authority in his family, nor his right to exercise best efforts to save his underage child from irreversible changes she might very well come to regret.
Every single person who used his or her professional or moral authority to override C.D.'s parental rights – judges, doctors, teachers, trans activists – had better hope that this child does not turn out to be a desister, as may well happen.
If, a few years from now, that teenager realizes that she made a big mistake and it dawns on her what she has sacrificed, that will be a huge embarrassment for her enablers. It would be poetic justice if she not only desisted, finding comfort in her natal sex, and came to understand that her father was her truest ally, but if she named, excoriated and even sued the enablers who cared nothing about her as an individual, but willingly used her case to enhance their status with the gatekeepers of the Gender Komsomol.