Conservative politicians in Texas want to introduce laws to make transitioning harder for transgender children after two parents’ vicious court battle over their 7-year-old’s gender identity.
Following their divorce in 2016, Anne Georgulas and Jeffrey Younger (pictured, left) have been locked in a court battle over custody of their transgender 7-year-old, who was born a male but now identifies as female.
The court heard Georgulas, a pediatrician, consulted three mental health professionals who diagnosed the child with gender dysphoria. She supported affirming the child as female.
But Younger denies the 7-year-old is transgender. He alleged Georgulas psychologically “manipulated” and “forced” the child into a “false gender self-identity”.
Last year, Georgulas asked a court to modify the custody arrangement to restrict Younger’s visits with their two children and stop him referring to the 7-year-old as a male. Younger responded by asking for full custody of the two children.
In an 11-1 ruling this week, a jury decided to terminate the joint custody agreement and grant Georgulas sole managing conservatorship of the two children, including medical decisions.
But a judge later reinstated the parents’ joint conservatorship, including the appointment of a parenting facilitator. The judge ruled the two parents would share rights and duties of the children, including medical decisions.
Republicans call supporting children’s transitions ‘abuse’
The court case has attracted significant attention from right-wing conservatives in Texas. Some have pledged to introduce laws making it harder for children to transition.
Texas governor Greg Abbott tweeted the matter “is being looked into by the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.”
One Texas Republican, Steve Toth, vowed to introduce legislation declaring “transitioning of a minor” to be “child abuse”.
Another, Matt Krause, wrote on Twitter he intends to introduce legislation to “prohibit the use of puberty blockers” by children under 18.
Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz said the case was “horrifying and tragic” and the child is “a pawn in a left-wing political agenda”.
“For a parent to subject such a young child to life-altering hormone blockers to medically transition their sex is nothing less than child abuse,” Cruz tweeted.
However, there is no medical intervention for prepubescent children experiencing gender dysphoria.
They may undergo a “social transition”, allowing them to choose the clothes, hairstyle, names and pronouns they prefer.
Later, a transgender child may take puberty blocker drugs under the guidance of a doctor. These temporarily delay puberty’s irreversible effects, such as deepening voice and breast growth. This allows children more time to decide their next steps.
But experts warn withholding puberty blocker medication from children with gender dysphoria is not a “neutral option”. It can increase the risk of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression.
Father says affirming his child’s gender ‘violates religious beliefs’
On a website he created to campaign for custody, Jeffrey Younger alleged the 7-year-old “consistently and persistently chooses traditional masculine clothing” with him and “presents as male” in all other ways.
“When with his father, he refuses girl’s clothes, says he is a boy to family and to friends, refuses to play with girls, and engages in typically male play,” Younger wrote.
However one therapist told the court the child expressed distress at “having to be a boy” when in the company of the father.
Anne Georgulas also alleged Younger engaged in “emotionally abusive behavior” toward the child in response to the child’s new gender.
Younger wrote on his website he is not “against” transgender people but also claims “affirming a son as a girl violates [his] Christian religious beliefs.”
Multiple conservative media outlets have published photos of the 7-year-old child. QNews.com.au has decided not to name her to protect her privacy.
Georgulas said she has suffered “threats, harassment and even vandalism” as a result of the case.
Her lawyers said in a statement a “completely distorted and untrue version of events in this case has been circling in the media.”
“[Georgulas] is being viciously attacked and threatened by complete strangers based on false and untrue statements,” the lawyers said.
“The ruling issued by a jury of peers, after hearing both sides of this case, should call into question the distorted and untrue version of events.”
If this has brought up issues for you, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
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