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Respect for the gender identity of transgender children and youth by their parents or legal representatives

On several occasions we have discussed the right to gender identity of trans people and the ways in which this right can be protected. In this blog we will discuss the particular case of respect for the self-perceived gender of transgender children and youth by their parents or legal representatives.

In its judgment 15427-2020, the Constitutional Court heard a writ of habeas corpus filed by a minor against the National Children’s Board (PANI) and the National Psychiatric Hospital. The petitioner was a transgender minor and was hospitalized for attempts to take his own life. In its writ, he asked the Court to order his immediate release from the hospital.

Although the Constitutional Court found no violation in this case, this precedent allows us to know what measures the authorities can take when a father, mother or legal representative does not respect the self-perceived gender of minors. In this case, the mother did not respect her son’s self-perceived gender and verbally and emotionally abused him for it. This situation triggered mental health issues in her son.

To protect the rights of the minor, PANI took the child away from her mother, assigned him to a community resource, and filed for change of name and gender identity before the Civil Registry. The attempts of the underage person to commit suicide warranted his admission to the Psychiatric Hospital. Despite the fact that the minor expressed his desire to leave the medical center on several occasions, the treating medical personnel refused to authorize the discharge to protect his life and integrity. The Court considered that all these measures were reasonable and safeguarded the rights of the minor, and found that no fundamental rights had been infringed upon.

This precedent shows that when the father, mother or legal representatives of transgender children and youth refuse to respect their self-perceived gender and name, they could lose custody of their child. The State could also be in charge of carrying out the procedures so that the documentation of the minor adjusts to his or her self-perceived name and gender.

At CELIG we provide specialized services to the LGBTQI+ community. If you want more information or make an appointment with us, call us at 2253-0256, 2245-0855 or write to us at

We are located in San José, Barrio Escalante.

M.Sc. Ana Isabel Sibaja Rojas

CELIG – Center for Equal Litigation