Judge Weighs Trans Teen’s Sex-Change Case

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) – A Minnesota mother fought back in a hearing Thursday to stop two health care providers from continuing to give her transgender daughter sex-change services without her consent.

The dispute arises from the transgender services Fairview Health Services and Park Nicollet Health Services provided to 17-year-old J.D.K. The health care providers considered J.D.K. to be an emancipated minor, even without a court order.

J.D.K. mother’s, Anmarie Calgaro sued the providers in November, asking the court to affirm her parental rights and issue an injunction stopping them from providing any additional medical, educational or other services to J.D.K.

Calgaro claims J.D.K. was prescribed narcotics by Fairview Health Services “and succeeded in obtaining medical services to change sex from male to a female from Park Nicollet.”

Linnea Mirsch, the interim director of St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services and Michael Johnson, the principal of the Cherry School, are also named as defendants, in addition to St. Louis County, its school district and J.D.K. herself.

According to Calgaro’s lawsuit, the school district denied her request to participate in J.D.K.’s educational services and denied access to her educational records.

U.S. District Judge Paul A. Magnuson heard oral arguments Thursday over the health care providers and government agencies’ motion to dismiss the case.

Counsel for Johnson said Calgaro never asked for J.D.K’s records and argued her claims should be dismissed because federal court is not the proper forum and a “principal is not the final policy maker.”

Both Fairview Health Services and Park Nicollet Health Services argued that the claims against them should be dismissed because they are not government entities even though they receive some government funding.

But Calgaro’s attorney, Erick Kaardal with Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, argued that not only did these agencies emancipate J.D.K. without a court order, but Minnesota law provides Calgaro no recourse to challenge the emancipation status. Kaardal says this is a violation of her rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

Speaking outside the courthouse, Calgaro told reporters, “My minor son received health services, narcotic drugs, hormonal drugs, welfare/housing, food stamps, and a driver’s license without my knowledge or consent. The school district is also treating my son as an adult. I believe these actions violate my constitutional due process rights, because no court has ever approved his legal emancipation.”

Anmarie Calgaro and her attorney Erick Kaardal speaking to reporters outside the courthouse Thursday. (DIONNE CORDELL-WHITNEY/Courthouse News Service).

“In this hearing, I have presented my case and asked the court to declare that my due process rights under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution have been violated. I have asked the court to restore my full parental rights. I am hopeful these proceedings will help all parents and all families in Minnesota maintain the constitutionally protected rights that are in the best interest of their children,” Calgaro said.

In an interview, Kaardal said there was no process for Calgaro’s case in state court, which has procedures in place for determining rights in cases of marital dissolution, paternity and child protection, but not necessarily for emancipation issues. He said he initially planned to file Calgaro’s case in state court but he filed in federal court because of the lack of procedures in state court.

“Ms. Calgaro is living a parent’s worst nightmare. Her son has, while a minor, been steered through a life-changing, permanent body-altering process by organizations that have no reason to have his best interests in mind,” Kaardal said in a statement. “With no parental involvement, this child has become a pawn in someone else’s agenda, influenced by those who have no right to make decisions over his life and well-being. These institutions have no right, legally or morally, to usurp the place of a parent.”

Judge Magnuson said he’ll take the parties’ arguments under advisement and will make a decision “as soon as I can.”

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