The father’s sentence was reduced after challenging the child’s treatment for gender dysphoria

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The father’s sentence was reduced after challenging the child’s treatment for gender dysphoria

The father joked about his child’s suicide attempts.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal has reversed a contempt of court sentence after a man objected to treatment for his child’s gender dysphoria, ordering him to a 45-day stay.

The father, described as CD in court documents, pleaded guilty to criminal contempt and was sentenced to six months in prison, 18 months probation and ordered to make a $30,000 donation to charity.

The father’s child, identified as AB, has been receiving medical treatment for gender dysphoria since about age 14. But the father was adamantly opposed to that medical treatment and objected to the fact that his consent was not required to continue the treatment, Judge Mary Newberry said in her Aug. 9 ruling for the unanimous three-judge panel.

Family law proceedings seeking the assistance of the British Columbia Supreme Court to protect the child’s privacy began in 2019, the judge said. But the father ignored court orders to initiate a series of legal proceedings.

In February 2019, Judge Gregory Bowden said it was in the best interests of the child to receive medical treatment for gender dysphoria and henceforth be recognized and referred to as male. The judge also said the child should be identified by the name he chooses, not the name on his birth certificate.

Bowden said trying to persuade a child to give up treatment or being referred to as a girl or with female pronouns would be considered “family abuse” under the Family Law Act.

Father gives interviews, shares child’s personal medical information online

Two months later, Judge Francesca Marzari issued an order anonymizing the names of the health professionals involved in AB’s care; prevented the father from trying to persuade AB to abandon his treatment for dysphoria; and prohibits a father from publishing or sharing information related to his child’s sex, gender, identity, health, or medical condition, except to certain people.

The judge said the protective order was necessary because the father provided two online publishers in interviews with links to unredacted copies of his child’s personal medical information.

“In interviews, CD expressed his disagreement with AB’s decisions, dismissed his suicide attempt lightly and called him a girl,” Newberry said.

After the transfer of the case to the criminal court, the father continues to give interviews to online publications. He also provided photos and posted information about the child, which allowed anyone online in Canada to identify their child and their caregivers, Newberry said. When the father tried to bring his own legal appeals against his child in July 2019, they were dismissed as “vexatious and an abuse of process”.

Throughout the proceedings, the father failed to recognize the difference between simply expressing his own opinion and doing so in such a way as to invade his child’s privacy, the judge said.

Newberry said the father “never provided a satisfactory answer as to why he did not simply redact AB’s name and personal details” so that the child’s privacy would be protected and he would not breach the court orders.

The father pleads guilty

She said after the Crown laid the criminal contempt charge against the father on July 30, 2020, his lawyer realized the Crown was able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

On July 30, 2020, Crown prosecutors charged him with contempt of the father. That’s when his lawyer realized the Crown was able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, Newberry said.

The father decided to plead guilty.

Crown prosecutors offered to impose a sentence of 45 days in jail if the father pleaded guilty. But the father’s attorney did not accept that offer, apparently hoping to get a conditional discharge and avoid the CDs having a “criminal record,” Newberry said.

Crown counsel advised counsel that a criminal contempt conviction would not leave a CD with a criminal record.

On appeal, the father argued that his lawyer had given him ineffective assistance and that if his lawyer had not rejected the Crown’s plea deal, he would have been released at the end of the hearing, without a report, after serving almost 45 days in custody.

Newberry agreed, allowing the father to walk free but remain on probation. The judge also set aside the father’s mandatory donation of $30,000 to charity.

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