In a blow to advocates of parental authority, last week a visiting judge in a juvenile court in Hamilton County, Ohio stripped parents of custody of their teenage girl, who wants to identify as male, because they would not allow the 17-year-old to begin hormone replacement therapy.
The judge awarded custody to the teen’s grandparents who were, in the court’s eyes, more accepting of the teen’s wishes and who will now be allowed to make medical decisions for the teen. This case, which might be the first of its kind in juvenile court, should be disturbing to any advocate of parental rights and freedom of religious expression.
Mutilate Your Child, Or We Will Do It For You
In 2016, the teen’s parents — the judge will not release the names of the family members — took her to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for psychiatric treatment for anxiety and depression, where she was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The teen wanted to continue with hormone replacement therapy, to help her appear male, but according to court testimony, her parents objected.
They encouraged her to see a “Christian counselor” instead, and refused to call their daughter by her chosen male name. Some of the court testimony on the side of the teen indicated that the parents had told the child she was “going to hell,” although the parents have disagreed with some of the statements given in court about their parenting and religious beliefs.
Based on their unwillingness to allow their child to go through with the treatments, which was based at least in part on their Christian beliefs, Judge Sylvia Hendon ruled to give the teen’s grandparents full custody, including the ability to make medical decisions and provide insurance (they’re accepting of her desire to identify as a male).
Although the judge seems convinced of the teen’s desire to identify as a male, she must still be evaluated by a psychologist unaffiliated with the hospital where she wants to undergo hormone replacement therapy, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, to determine “the issue of consistency in the child’s gender presentation and feelings of nonconformity.” If this were a key component to evaluating the importance of transitioning — and it seems to be — why wouldn’t the judge have ordered a similar evaluation before she stripped the parents of custody of their own child?
Trial Highlights Core Debate Over Transgenderism
The December trial highlighted some of the core arguments on both sides of the transgender debate, particularly regarding the psychological and emotional state of a person who wants legal and medical assistance to look and act like the opposite sex.
Transgenderism opponents often argue children are not developed enough emotionally and psychologically to make such a life-altering choice, even if it is condoned later on. The attorney for the teen’s parents said she was mentally and emotionally unstable and therefore unable to make such a serious, life-changing decision about her health. On the flip side, transgender advocates argue making significant, irreversible medical decisions will help a struggling child out of the depression that often accompanies gender dysphoria, and could even prevent suicide. The Hamilton County assistant prosecutor, Don Clancy, who represented the teen told the judge her parents’ decision could lead her to commit suicide.
There is very little research yet on young people who get cross-sex hormones and surgeries, because the phenomenon itself is quite new and the sampling of people is still small. That said, there is still very little research to show these teens do well either, or at the least, better than peers who accept their sex. There is some research on transgender adults, and it’s not positive. Both trans advocates and critics note that teens who identify as transgender have worse physical and emotional health on government and other surveys than do sexually integrated peers.
An article praising the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s “Transgender Health Clinic” said one family who encouraged their son to try to become a girl got their encouragement from “The free-thinking Dutch, who have long advanced medical care for transgender people” and who “pioneered the technique of puberty suppression more than three decades ago.”
Guess what? Suicide rates were at an all-time high in the Netherlands in 2016 and have been rising steadily for years. A 2011 study of “transsexual persons undergoing sex reassignment surgery” in Sweden, the overall mortality rate for sex-reassigned persons was higher, “particularly death from suicide” and “sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for suicide attempts and psychiatric inpatient care.”
Of course, beyond the debate about mental health is the idea that transgender advocates think hormones and surgery are the answer. Again, people who counsel transgenders who have done this and regret it disagree. Former transgender Walt Heyer, who now counsels thousands facing similar struggles, notes, “Unhappiness, poor mental health outcomes, detransitions, and the high rate of suicide attempts (over 40 percent) raise the likelihood that affirmation, hormone intervention and surgery are failing to effect psychologically-sound long-term outcomes for all people with gender identity issues.”
Heyer adds: “For more than 50 years there has been no proof that using hormones and surgery to treat gender dysphoria is effective long-term. From the first drafts in 1979 by Dr. Paul Walker to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) standards today, standards of care provide only one course of treatment for people with gender identity issues: change the body to match the mind.”
The teen’s parents rejected this idea, but it’s obvious their Judeo-Christian values influenced their parenting, and they chose instead to try to deal with the dysphoria their daughter clearly felt through therapy, as opposed to encouraging or allowing her to try experimental medical treatments that have many drastic consequences.
Undermining Parents’ Rights Is the Real Problem Here
This trend to grant autonomy to teens in issues related to the “body” started when laws changed about parental rights related to medicine. Doctors must have parental permission to see children regarding every issue save for sexually related ones — pregnancy, birth control, abortion, etc. Radical social reformers want to extend this existing separation of parents’ influence over their kids’ medical treatment to transgender therapies.
CNN reports that, in Hendon’s ruling, she seemed to tip off local lawmakers to create legislation that would aid judges in how they can evaluate similar cases in the future, paving the way for legislators and lawyers to further undermine parental authority.
“What is clear from the testimony presented in this case and the increasing worldwide interest in transgender care is that there is certainly a reasonable expectation that circumstances similar to the one at bar are likely to repeat themselves,” she wrote. “That type of legislation would give a voice and a pathway to youth similarly situated as (the teen) without attributing fault to the parents and involving them in protracted litigation which can and does destroy a family unit.”
Though Hendon seems to acquiesce the point that transgender “care” and custody can and will destroy the family, beckoning lawmakers to draw up legislation on the topic and stripping the parents of custody seems to align more with a police state than a free society in which parents have primary authority to steward the children they create and to whom no one else has deeper social and biological ties.
This case should raise alarm bells among not just the conservative right or the libertarian sector but even among the progressive left. After all, if a judge can rule with this legal logic against Christian parents, what’s to say another judge with more of Judeo-Christian ethos couldn’t rule to strip a child from atheist gay parents?
This case ought to send a chill down the spine of every parent in observing what the state can do to tamper with parental rights in order to further the Sexual Revolution.
— Andrew T. Walker (@andrewtwalk) February 16, 2018
In the case of real abuse, authorities should question parental authority and custody. It’s clear that this case is not about abuse, nor does the judge even attempt to make it such. Hendon, swayed by the teen’s defense that she was “on the brink of suicidal ideation” and undeterred by evidence that becoming a medical experiment could be more harmful for the teen than waiting a year until she’s a legal adult, decided in favor of an LGBTQ talking point, rather than with parents who have raised this child for 17 years and clearly care about her best interests.