Dr. Jordan Peterson rose to international prominence for opposing Bill C-16 in Canada in 2016. This legislation required Canadians to use an individual’s preferred pronouns amid the ever-growing list of gender identities. Dr. Peterson did not object out of “transphobia,” as many accused him of doing. Instead, he objected to the state passing a law that compelled speech, which was evident in his testimony and in every interview on the subject. He warned C-16 would be a slippery slope and result in punishment for speaking. Proponents of the bill told him that would never happen.
The bill passed into law on June 16, 2017. Dr. Jordan Peterson was vindicated when on March 16, 2021, at 10 a.m., Robert Hoogland surrendered himself to the court in response to a warrant issued for his arrest by the attorney general of British Columbia. His crime? Referring to his teen, a biological female, as “daughter,” referring to her with female pronouns, and refusing to affirm her medical transition to become a trans male. Peterson noted that this was inevitable:
This could never happen, said those who called my stance against Bill C16 alarmist. I read the law and saw that it was, to the contrary, inevitable https://t.co/zi8vB5x4x0
— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) March 18, 2021
Hoogland’s story, reported by the Post Millennial, is heartbreaking on many levels. He has consistently advocated for “watchful waiting” for his child. This approach means waiting until a child becomes an adult before he or she undergoes any permanent or irreversible treatment. In his interviews and court appearances, he notes that gender dysphoric children often desist as they mature. A compilation of studies shows that desistance happens frequently, although it is not predictable.
As Abigail Shrier has pointed out, watchful waiting is reasonable for young women. She explains that gender dysphoric women who wait until adulthood to undergo transgender alterations will present with a smaller stature, but the rest of the physical characteristics they seek to present as male, such as facial hair, will appear with later use of cross-sex hormones. She does note that taking cross-sex hormones is not without risk, and an adult is in a much better position to evaluate the risks and benefits.
Shrier also explains that the phenomenon of gender dysphoric teen girls is new. It is a population that never existed but emerged abruptly about ten years ago and quadrupled between 2016 and 2017.
Not only did the Canadian court order Hoogland to use his daughter’s preferred pronouns, but it also ordered him to affirm her transition:
Boden’s court held that the father’s consent [to medication to affect transition] was irrelevant. The judge went a step further, declaring that the girl’s parents must affirm their child’s “gender identity,” and refer to the child as though the fact of her being a gender non-conforming biological female who identifies as transgender means that the child is a boy. If he did not, the parents would be implicated of the criminal offense of family violence.
When Hoogland laid out his case against medical transition in an interview with The Federalist, the judge convicted him of family violence. The judge authorized a warrant for his arrest if he he ever used the wrong gender pronoun again. Hoogland complied and continued to litigate to get his daughter off testosterone. When he lost, he spoke out. Hoogland referred to his child as his daughter and used “she” and “her” in interviews with two Canadian YouTubers. The attorney general issued an arrest order based on the previous ruling.
Hoogland’s story is terrifying for any parent. First, any parent seeks to act in their child’s best interest. If you know gender dysphoria desists in some percentage of cases and that an increasing number of young transmen are detransitioning, watchful waiting seems like the correct approach. Hoogland is also aware that his daughter had other mental health issues, which according to Shrier, is common in teen girls who spontaneously identify as trans. Testosterone is also not without the risk of severe side effects, including suicidal tendencies, anaphylaxis, liver failure, cancer, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. No one is sure if these will be worse or have earlier onset when treatment starts earlier.
In no other circumstance does the medical or legal community mandate a health provider or a loved one confirm a patient’s self-diagnosis. Yet, in a case where the permanent effects can be profound, including infertility, irreversible surgery, and long-term health complications, the court demands agreement with self-diagnosis. Even in the U.S., parents who resist their children’s transition get publicly shamed. So are providers who explore a child’s gender dysphoria rather than affirming it right away.
A parent in Canada has been under a compelled speech order for several years and has been jailed for non-compliance. Washington State has already instituted a law saying 13-year-old children can seek transition treatment without a parent’s consent. Considering the Biden administration’s position on trans issues and this cultural moment, how can we believe this is not possible in America?
A quote from Douglas K. Murray’s book The Madness of Crowds will one day be considered prescient when the full implications of transitioning children without careful consideration are known:
Every age before this one has performed or permitted acts that to us are morally stupefying. So, unless we have any reason to think we are more reasonable, morally better or wiser than any time in the past, it is reasonable to assume there will be some things we are presently doing – possibly while flushed with moral virtue – that our descendants will whistle through their teeth at and say, “What the hell were they thinking?”
WATCH Robert Hoogland talk about his daughter’s case: