The legal dispute between a formerly married Texas couple over whether their 7-year-old son should be given hormone-blocking treatments and “transition” to being a girl may turn out to be the straw that finally breaks the transgender movement’s back – at least in terms of public opinion.
The case, widely reported in the United States, has brought renewed public scrutiny to medical practices that have always been controversial but which are now increasingly challenged by medical and legal experts.
For years, a heated dispute has existed between those who believe that irreversible sex change procedures and treatments for preteens especially are tantamount to child abuse – and those who argue that, in a limited number of cases of genuine gender dysphoria, they are justified and in the best interests of the children involved.
Texas Parents Fight Over Hormone Blockers for Boy
The case in Texas highlights the issues involved in this dispute.
The parents, Jeffrey Younger and his former wife, Dr. Anne Georgulas, a pediatrician, have been involved in an increasingly heated court case over the fate of their son, James, age 7. The couple had their marriage annulled four years ago.
James and his twin, Jude, have been living with Georgulas, who is not their biological mother. She testified that the children were conceived through in-vitro fertilization with a donor egg.
For the past two years, Georgulas has insisted that James is “transgender” – that is, that he “identifies” as a girl even though he was born and remains biologically male. She claims that her son likes to wear dresses and be called “Luna.”
The case wound up in court when Georgulas filed suit to limit the contact that her former husband, Younger, had with the boy and to require that he address James as Luna and treat him as a girl.
Younger counter-sued, seeking sole custody of both children. He argued that, during his time with James, the boy acts like any regular boy and prefers male clothing over female.
Younger produced witnesses who testified to the same. Further, he argued that his son could be irreversibly harmed by the hormone-blocking treatments Georgulas is proposing.
Georgulas produced medical experts who testified that her son said he was a girl and wanted to be called “Luna.” Younger had his own medical experts who testified that sex change procedures for children could be dangerous, possibly resulting in the suppression of puberty altogether.
A neutral, court-appointed expert, Benjamin Albritton, stated his recommendation that the child should be “affirmed” in whatever gender identity the child manifested but that the mother, Georgulas, should be prohibited from initiating sex change procedures or treatments without the permission of the child’s father.
A Stunning Judicial Reversal
On October 21, a jury surprisingly ruled in Georgulas’s favor, granting her sole custody of the twin boys and paving the way for hormone treatments to begin – although that judgment would be reversed in just four days.
The closely-watched case triggered a firestorm across the State of Texas – and internationally.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced October 23 that the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services are now investigating the case.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz joined the fray, tweeting that “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.”
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, himself a pediatrician, concurred. “We don’t let kids drink alcohol till 21,” he tweeted. “But we will allow a 7 year old to have his life and body altered like this? This is child abuse and the state should side with the father who is trying to protect the child.”
We don’t let kids drink alcohol til 21. People want to move smoking age to 21. But we will allow a 7 year old to have his life and body altered like this? This is child abuse and the state should side with the father who is trying to protect the child.” https://t.co/fNXF50qQEY
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) October 24, 2019
The next day, October 24, the judge overseeing the case, Dallas Judge Kim Cooks, did just that by dramatically overruling the original judgment of the jury the previous Monday, which had granted sole custody to Georgulas.
Georgulas had asked the court earlier to order her former husband to attend special counseling that “affirms transgender ideology” and to limit his contact with the child.
Instead, Dallas ruled that the child, James Younger, will remain under the joint custody of both parents and that therefore both parents must agree to any medical treatments.
In other words, after initially appearing that Georgulas won the controversial court case, the final result was that the court ruled against Georgulas and her plan for “gender reassignment” treatments.
In addition, Jeffrey C. Mateer of the Texas Attorney General’s Office asked that the acting director of the Department of Family and Protective Services investigate to determine if possible child abuse had occurred or is occurring, stating that the children in the case “are in immediate and irrevocable danger.”
In a letter, Mateer noted that Georgulas had not sought a second opinion but relied solely upon the advice of a single social worker who runs an organization called Dallas Rainbow Counseling.
Georgulas, Mateer said, “reportedly intends to administer puberty blockers soon, which can cause chemical castration.”
Moreover, Mateer added that experts at trial admitted there is no peer-reviewed research available on the “transitioning” of children from one gender to another.
The Attorney General’s Office also pointed out that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services last year forcibly removed another boy, age four, from his family because it was alleged that his mother was “engaged in similar practices.”
The “lack of consistency and principled application of the Family Code to protect children is troubling,” the AG concluded.
Other recent transgender controversies
The Texas case is merely the latest in a string of recent setbacks for the transgender or “gender identity” movement – which, until just recently, had seemed unbeatable.
* On October 2, a British woman announced the formation of a charity to help what she claimed were hundreds of people who transitioned to another gender during childhood and who now regret the medical interventions allegedly taken on their behalf. “I’m in communication with 19 and 20-year-olds who have had full gender reassignment surgery who wish they hadn’t, and their dysphoria hasn’t been relieved, they don’t feel better for it,” said Charlie Evans, 28, who was born female but “identified” as a male for almost a decade.
* On October 22, a Canadian Human Rights Commission ruled against a so-called trans activist, Jessica Yaniv, who had filed numerous complaints against salons that refused to wax Yaniv’s male genitals. The BC Human Rights Code prohibits denial of service based on a person’s gender identity or expression, but the Commission found that Yaniv “has engaged in a pattern of filing human rights complaints which target small businesses for personal financial gain and/or to punish certain ethnic groups which she perceived as hostile to the rights of LGBTQ+ people.”
* A week earlier, on October 16, a federal judge in the United States vacated an Obama Administration health care rule banning discrimination against transgender individuals. The case was part of an ongoing legal dispute over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Obama Administration had insisted the medical professionals cannot “discriminate” against transgender persons by not offering the same medical services offered to other members of a transgender person’s new gender. This confusion is what led U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro to insist, in the third Democrat Party debate, that trans women should enjoy the same access to abortion services as other women – even though trans women, being biologically male and lacking female reproductive organs, cannot get pregnant.
* In June, another federal court overturned a lower court ruling that declared Donald Trump’s ban on transgender military service was unconstitutional. Earlier, in January, the U.S. Supreme Court had allowed the ban to go into effect while the case was adjudicated in the lower federal court.
The transgender movement is not going away any time soon
Well-funded medical and legal organizations continue to insist, against overwhelming scientific evidence, that sex and gender are social constructs, not based on biology but simply “assigned” at birth.
Yet after two decades of media saturation, the notion that many people were “assigned” the wrong gender at birth has gained some credence.
In fact, the number of people afflicted with gender dysphoria is statistically quite small: According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, the prevalence of gender dysphoria is “0.005-0.014% for adult natal males and 0.002-0.003% for adult natal females.”
Translated, that means between 8,250 and 23,100 biological men and between 3,300 and 4,950 biological women in the United States may suffer from gender dysphoria.
Nevertheless, according to the Public Religion Research Institute, recent polling shows that 60 percent of Americans overall say they have become more supportive of transgender rights over the past five years, with 75 percent of Democrats saying they are more supportive and 47 percent of Republicans.
Yet that support is not absolute – and when it comes to children, there is increasing skepticism among at least some medical and legal experts.
Last year, three groups of medical doctors wrote to medical journals openly questioning the use of hormonal treatment of children alleged to be afflicted with gender dysphoria, as in the case in Texas.
The doctors all stated that they believe current practices are outpacing the science and may be driven more by ideology than by medical concerns.
As the Texas Attorney General stated, there is a startling lack of rigorous scientific evidence in support of “transitioning” for children – yet that hasn’t stopped some medical organizations from supporting “gender affirmation.”
“Transgender ideology is not just infecting our laws,” wrote Michelle Cretella, M.D., executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, two years ago. “It is intruding into the lives of the most innocent among us—children—and with the apparent growing support of the professional medical community.”
Yet as the Texas case makes clear, the fight over “gender identity” and irreversible medical interventions for young children is far from over.
The trans activists have won many battles, but they are discovering to their shock that, at least when it comes to young children, they may yet lose the war.
Robert J. Hutchinson writes frequently on the intersection of politics and ideas. He is the author, most recently, of What Really Happened: The Lincoln Assassination.