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Mar 8, 2024

Can Minors Give Informed Consent?

Age matters because informed consent matters.

There currently are no age restrictions for receiving puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, or gender reassignment surgery.

It is impossible for minors to have the capacity to give informed consent to the irreversible effects of medical and surgical transitioning.

  1. Justice Education Society, “Youth Age-Based Legal Rights in BC,” accessed March 31, 2023, ↩︎
  2. Coleman et al., “Standards of Care for the Health of Transgender and Gender Diverse People, Version 8.” ↩︎
  3. For a full overview of Canada’s informed consent legislation see, Gerald B Robertson & Ellen I Picard, Legal Liability of Doctors and Hospitals in Canada, 5th ed (Toronto: Thomson Reuters Canada, 2017) at 100-109; 154-204 [Legal Liability of Doctors]. ↩︎
  4. See, Reibl v Hughes, [1980] 2 SCR 880, 114 DLR (3d) 1, aff’m in Ciarlariello v Schacter, [1993] 2 SCR 119, 100 DLR (4th) 609. ↩︎
  5. Sarah Birmingham, Christen Rachul & Timothy Caulfield, “Informed Consent and Patient Comprehension: The Law and Evidence” (2013) 7:1 McGill JL & Health 123 at para 5 [Informed Consent and Patient Comprehension]. ↩︎
  6. BM Stanley, DJ Walters & GJ Maddern, “Informed Consent: How Much is Enough?” (1998) 68 Australian & New Zealand Journal of Surgery 788; Jeff Whittle et al, “Understanding of the Benefits of Coronary Revascularization Procedures Among Patients Who are Offered Such Procedures” (2007) 154 American Heart Journal 662; Allison E Crepeau et al, “Prospective Evaluation of Patient Comprehension of Informed Consent” (2011) 93:19 Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery American Volume 114; Jü JW Wulsow, T Martin Feeley * Sean Tierney, “Beyond Consent: Improving Understanding in Surgical patients” (2012) 203:1 American Journal of Surgery 112; Sonu Pathak et al, “Consent for Gynaecological Procedure: What Do Women Understand and Remember?” (2013) 287 Archives of Gynecology & Obstetrics 59. ↩︎
  7. Informed Consent and Patient Comprehension, supra note 35 at para 8. ↩︎
  8. An elective procedure is one that is not medically necessary. See, Philion v Smith, [2008] OJ No 3412. Other examples of elective procedures include cosmetic surgery, sterilization, and even abortion. See Legal Liability of Doctors, supra note 33 at 180-81. ↩︎
  9. Kitchen v McMullen, 100 NBR (2d) 91, 62 DLR (4th) 481 (NBCA), leave to appeal to SCC refused [1990] 1 SCR viii. ↩︎
  10. Revell v Chow, 2010 ONCA 353 at para 43. ↩︎
  11. See, for example, BC Children’s Hospital Gender Clinic, “Information Sheet: Testosterone for Assigned Females with Gender Dysphoria,” December 5, 2022,; BC Children’s Hospital Gender Clinic, “Information Consent Form: Minor Youth Testosterone for Assigned Females with Gender Dysphoria,” December 14, 2020,; Sick Kids, “Information Form: Testosterone Therapy for Individuals with Gender Dysphoria Assigned Female at Birth,” 2023. ↩︎
  12. Bell v. Tavistock, [2020] EWHC 3274 ↩︎
  13. See, for example, the legal case of A.B. v. C.D. and E.F., 2020 BCCA 11 ↩︎
  14. National Post, “B.C. father arrested, held in jail for repeatedly violating court orders over child’s gender transition therapy,” March 17, 2021, ↩︎