A lawsuit filed by a Minnesota woman, Anmarie Calgaro, on Wednesday alleges that her 17-year old transgender daughter wrongfully underwent transition-related medical care without her mother’s consent.
Calgaro named her child, referring to as her "son" and by the initials "J.D.K." in the suit, as one of the defendants. The teen’s health care providers, Park Nicollet Health Services and Fairview Health Services, were also named as defendants, as well as St. Louis County and the teen’s school district, all for treating her as an emancipated minor.
Calgaro is being represented by the Thomas More Society, an anti-abortion law firm most well-known for currently defending David Deleiden, the activist who last year released undercover films about Planned Parenthood’s donation of fetal tissues to medical research.
“The bottom line of this lawsuit is that my basic civil rights to raise my child in the way I want have been violated,” Calgaro, 38, told BuzzFeed News.
J.D.K. could not be reached for comment. The two health providers named in the suit both declined to comment, citing pending legislation.
In June 2015, with the help of Minnesota Legal Aid, J.D.K. had filed a court order requesting legal emancipation from her parents, claiming that she had been living independently of them and supporting herself for at least six months. Shortly thereafter, she began receiving hormone replacement therapy to aid in her gender transition at Park Nicolett.
In Minnesota, minors who are living on their own and financially supporting themselves are allowed to give consent on medical services without having their parents notified.
“This decision is made at the front desk of a medical provider. If the child can pay for the medical services, then they get the medical services,” Calgaro’s lawyer, Erick Kaardal, told BuzzFeed News. “We’re saying that this statute is constitutionally flawed because it doesn’t provide a procedure for the parent to challenge in court.”
In April 2016, Calgaro had also written to a court objecting to her child’s request to change her name from the boy’s name given to her at birth to a girl’s name. J.D.K. had presented a letter from her physician at Park Nicollet attesting that she was receiving “appropriate, permanent clinical treatment for gender transition to the new female gender,” and that all legal documentation, including passport, driver’s license, and birth certificate “should reflect the new gender.”
While Calgaro says her suit does not concern the gender transition itself, and is instead about the issue of parental rights, she repeatedly referred to J.D.K. as “my son” and “he.” She also reiterated her belief that she was trying to “protect him from doing something he might regret.” Medically, Calgaro claimed that hormone replacement therapy is not a necessary treatment, despite doctors long recognizing it as a crucial part of transgender health care. LGBT teens from highly rejecting households have been shown to be more likely to experience depression and are eight times more likely to attempt suicide.
“These kids are often thrown out of their family homes, because their identity and their condition is not tolerated, and no effort is made to understand the child,” Jamison Green, immediate past president of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, told BuzzFeed News.
“It seems like this young woman is making every effort to take good care of herself. I feel that it’s a very sad thing that this has to be handled in a public way,” Jamison added. “It appears that the mother is trying to discredit the process that her child is going through.”
Others argue that the case is less about the ability to receive transition-related care and more about what minors can do without parental permission. “Constitutional law clearly protects the fundamental right of a parent to guide the upbringing and education of their children,” Phil Duran, legal director of LGBT advocacy group OutFront Minnesota, told BuzzFeed News. “But I have never seen anyone try to sue their own child for getting health care they, the parent, objects to.”
Calgaro’s lawyer, Kaardal, said that they’re hoping to get a hearing by February, and will request that the case be heard in front of a jury. Acknowledging that J.D.K. would likely turn 18 before the case was decided, Calgaro said, “I’m filing this on behalf of other parents.”