A transgender teenager who used human rights law to cut his parents out of his life has won thousands of pounds in compensation after a council official let slip his new identity.
The teenager, who was born female but now identifies as male, is to be paid nearly £5,000 in damages as a result of the official accidentally revealing his new first name and transgender status to friends of his parents.
The 17-year-old from Leicestershire, known only as PD, had become so estranged from his parents over his gender status that he wanted no more to do with them.
In September 2014, PD – then aged 15 – told his parents, who had adopted him as a girl at the age of six, that he wanted to change his identity to male.
PD was referred to the Tavistock Gender Identity Clinic in London, the only one of its kind for children in the UK, for a condition known as ‘gender dysphoria’ – in which a person experiences severe discomfort or distress because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity.
However, a court later heard that his adoptive mother and father “struggled to come to terms with his decision” and relations between P and his parents – who insisted on calling him by his original girl’s name – broke down.
Their relationship deteriorated to the point that PD left home and in September last year the teenager, who had a history of self harm, including taking overdoses of drugs, moved to a local authority unit for ‘semi-independent’ living and cut off all communication with his parents.
In August 2015 the teenager took his case to the Family Division of the High Court in London, using Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights to argue that he had the right to privacy for his medical treatment.
Mr Justice Keehan ruled in his favour, arguing that it would not be in PD’s best interests, and that his human rights would be breached, if his parents were kept abreast of developments.
But in January this year an official at Leicestershire County Council revealed his male forename and his transgender status to friends of his adoptive parents, in breach of the court ruling.
The teenager was initially told that the council official had also given the same friend the address of the unit where he was living, though this later appeared not to have been the case.
The family court heard that “the impact of this wrongful disclosure on P was immediate and dramatic”.
In his judgment last month Justice Keehan stated: “He felt unsafe at the unit and left. He first stayed with his girlfriend and then a number of residential units provided by the local authority.
“P’s mental health was very severely compromised: he made a number of suicide attempts and there were several cases of self harm.”
PD’s story reflects the moving transgender storyline in East Enders, in which young chef Kyle Slater leaves home and comes to London after falling out with his mother over his decision to become a boy.
In recent episodes Kyle’s mother appears to have become reconciled with his transgender status.
Justice Keehan described how PD’s family had been torn apart by the issue of what they regarded as their daughter’s gender and said he felt extreme sympathy for both sides.
In an earlier ruling he said: “The situation in which P and parents find themselves is extremely difficult. The parents struggle to understand P’s position, feelings and his decision about his gender.
“He struggles to understand their complete lack of support and understanding. The upshot is that he, at 16 years of age, has decided to completely disengage from family life with them.”
The judge said he hoped PD and his parents could be reconciled at some point in the future.
“I am pleased to learn that the parents, having expressed a willingness to engage with the Tavistock Centre throughout, will continue to seek guidance and support from the same. It may well help them come to an understanding of why P finds it so distressing when they have referred to him as H,” he said.
A spokesman for Leicestershire County Council, which has been ordered to pay £4,750 in compensation to the teenager, said: “We accept the findings of the court and we have made a full and unreserved apology to PD, who we continue to support.”