Minnesota Mom Loses Fight Against Teen’s Sex Change

Anmarie Calgaro and her attorney Erick Kaardal speaking to reporters outside the Minneapolis federal courthouse in January. (File photo by DIONNE CORDELL-WHITNEY/Courthouse News Service).

MINNEAPOLIS (CN) – A federal judge tossed out a lawsuit filed by a Minnesota mother who claimed state agencies and health care providers terminated her parental rights when they allowed her teenager to undergo sex-change procedures without her consent.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson, who heard oral arguments in January, dismissed the lawsuit Tuesday, finding Anmarie Calgaro’s claims meritless.

Calgaro sued her 17-year-old transgender daughter as well as state agencies and two health care providers last year, claiming that her daughter, E.J.K., was allowed to undergo sex-change procedures without her permission.

St. Louis County and its school district were named defendants in the suit, as well as Fairview Health Services and Park Nicollet Health Services. Calgaro also sued Linnea Mirsch, interim director of St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services, and Michael Johnson, principal of the Cherry School.

In 2015, E.J.K. moved out of Calgaro’s home in St. Louis County to live with her father and has refused to move back in with her mother ever since.

E.J.K., who was referred to as J.D.K. in Calgaro’s initial complaint, will turn 18 years old in less than two months.

E.J.K. currently lives on her own and attends the Cherry School, which is part of the St. Louis County School District.

Last year, Park Nicollet and Fairview Health began providing E.J.K. with medical treatment for a gender transition to the female gender, according to court records.

In her complaint, Calgaro alleged that St. Louis County was providing E.J.K. with government assistance to pay for these medical services.

When Calgaro asked Fairview Health and Park Nicollet for E.J.K.’s medical records, she says they refused. The St. Louis County School District also allegedly denied Calgaro’s request for access to E.J.K.’s school records.

Calgaro alleged that the government agencies and health care providers terminated her parental rights without due process when they determined that E.J.K. was an emancipated minor.

However, on Tuesday, Judge Magnuson said Calgaro’s claim that the agencies and providers determined E.J.K. is emancipated is “distracting” because they cannot legally do so.

Under Minnesota law, a minor child is not emancipated until a state court decides they are, the judge said.

“Defendants therefore did not emancipate E.J.K. and Calgaro continues to have sole physical and joint legal custody of E.J.K,” Magnuson wrote in his 14-page order. “Even assuming defendants determined E.J.K. emancipated – as the court must do at this stage of litigation – defendants’ emancipation determinations did not terminate Calgaro’s parental rights. Only a court order can do so.”

Magnuson dismissed Fairview and Park Nicollet from the case, stating that just because the nonprofits are extensively regulated by the state and receive state funding does not mean they participate in joint activity with the state.

“Because Fairview and Park Nicollet did not willfully participate in joint activity with the state, they did not act under color of state law,” the judge wrote.

Magnuson also sided with St. Louis County and its school district, finding that Calgaro failed to provide any facts that they intentionally deprived her of her parental rights without due process.

For example, Calgaro failed to show that St. Louis County provided government assistance to other non-emancipated minors before doing so with E.J.K, according to the order.

“Instead, Calgaro once again merely alleges in conclusory fashion that ‘St. Louis County’s policies, customers, practices, or procedures (or lack of procedures), acting under the color of state law, were the moving forces behind the constitutional violations asserted in this complaint,” Magnuson wrote. “Such a conclusory allegation is insufficient to support Calgaro’s general government assistance claim against St. Louis County.” (Parentheses in original.)

The judge found that Principal Johnson is entitled to qualified immunity from the suit, and said Calgaro “utterly fails” to establish Mirsch’s personal liability under state law.

As for her own daughter, Judge Magnuson noted that Calgaro attached E.J.K. to the complaint as a party who needed to be joined because of her involvement in the case.

“Although E.J.K. likely is a required party under Rule 19, because Calgaro’s claims against all other defendants fail, any claims she might raise against E.J.K. are likewise dismissed,” Magnuson said.

According to a Minneapolis Star Tribune report, Calgaro’s attorney Erick Kaardal said she is considering an appeal.

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