A Hibbing, Minn., mother who sued her teenage child for transitioning from male to female against her wishes has lost a major round in federal court.
Senior U.S. District Judge Paul A. Magnuson dismissed the suit on Tuesday, describing as “meritless” claims by Anmarie Calgaro that her child’s doctors, social service providers and school officials violated Calgaro’s constitutionally protected parental rights.
Last November, Calgaro drew international attention when she sued the 17-year-old — she still uses the child’s original male name and gender pronouns — and others for their role in assisting the teen, since identified in court by her new initials, E.J.K.
Calgaro sought a summary judgment before July, when E.J.K. turns 18, and the teen’s legal emancipation from her mother was at the heart of the case.
E.J.K. moved out of Calgaro’s home in 2015 and lived with her father in St. Cloud before staying with various relatives and friends. An attorney with the Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid clinic provided E.J.K. with a letter concluding that she had legally emancipated under Minnesota law. Acknowledging that state law provided no clear path to regaining her parental rights, Calgaro asked the federal court to intervene, order a stop to the teen’s hormone treatment and award her financial damages.
At a news conference last year, Calgaro’s attorney, Erick Kaardal, said his client was never given notice that her child was seeking emancipation, nor was there a court hearing or a court order regarding emancipation.
Calgaro said her child was treated at a Minneapolis medical clinic and received hormone therapy without her consent. She said the clinic refused to grant access to medical records and added that the St. Louis County School District refused to share E.J.K.’s education records.
But Magnuson concluded that the defendants committed no violations related to E.J.K.’s emancipation because only a court order could terminate Calgaro’s parental rights. In a footnote, the judge stipulated that he would refer to E.J.K. by the name and pronouns that matched her gender identity.
Kaardal said Tuesday that Calgaro is considering an appeal and maintained that the defendants’ actions constituted a form of “administrative emancipation” that violated his client’s parental rights.
“On the legislative front, people on the left and on the right believed that emancipation procedures in Minnesota should be put in statutes and codified,” Kaardal said. “But until then, it’s confusing and the court’s decision hasn’t cleared up that confusion.”
Magnuson, however, rejected the idea that the defendants had determined E.J.K. to be emancipated. The judge also wrote that Calgaro failed to plausibly allege that the school district’s policy deprived her of parental rights and found that Fairview and Park Nicollet — private, nonprofit health organizations — did not violate Calgaro’s parental rights because they were not acting as government actors carrying out a state law.
Magnuson also agreed with St. Louis County’s argument that the state, not the county, provided government assistance in the form of medical payments for E.J.K.’s care, and further dismissed any claims Calgaro might raise against her child, citing the failure of her claims against other defendants.
Asaf Orr, one of E.J.K.’s attorneys, said the case “shows the resilience of transgender youth and the importance of access to appropriate health care.”
“The law protects all young people, including transgender young people, and we are pleased that this outcome supports her access to essential health care and other critical service,” said Orr, a staff attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Transgender Youth Project in San Francisco.