US Judge Rules Parents Who Oppose Transgender Hormone Therapy Must Give up Custody of Daughter


An Ohio juvenile court judge recently handed down a controversial ruling that granted a teen’s grandparents custody after the 17-year-old’s parents refused to provide hormone replacement therapy as part of a requested gender transition.

According to WCPO, Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon ended what had been more than a yearlong legal battle between the unnamed minor and the parents who reportedly wanted to pursue faith-based treatment.

Court records indicate the child’s grandparents have been supportive of medical treatment to begin gender reassignment.

The teen has been living with them while the case played out in court.

Hendon’s ruling gives the grandparents limited authority to approve any therapy the teen might undergo prior to turning 18.

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As CNN reported, they were also granted the right to consent to the teen’s requested name change.

Per the court order, the grandparents “shall have the right to determine what medical care shall be pursued at Children’s Hospital and its Transgender Program, but before hormone therapy begins, the child shall be evaluated by a psychologist NOT AFFILIATED with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital on the issue of consistency in the child’s gender presentation, and feelings of non-conformity.”

The judge granted and encouraged “reasonable visitation” by the teen’s parents “to work toward a reintegration of the child into the extended family.”

She wrote that the court’s intrusion into the case was warranted, arguing suicidal thoughts meant the teen’s life could otherwise be in jeopardy.

Did this judge's ruling go too far?

“It is not within this Court’s jurisdiction to intrude on the treatment of a child except in the very rare circumstance when the child’s life hangs in the balance of treatment versus non-treatment,” Hendon wrote.

She went on to rule that the “threat of suicide and the existence of suicidal ideation can never hold this Court hostage as it searches for proper outcome of litigation revolving around the best interest of that child.”

The court order also included some sympathy for the parents, who were “legitimately surprised when the child’s anxiety and depression symptoms became the basis for the diagnosis of gender dysphoria” after having “lived until the summer of 2016 consistent with the assigned gender at birth.”

A number of transgender groups and advocates expressed support for the teen and for Hendon’s custody ruling.

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Among social media comments, however, the feedback was deeply divided with some viewing the judge’s order as an infringement on parental rights and others describing it as necessary intervention to protect a vulnerable child.

Citing “a reasonable expectation that circumstances similar to the one at the bar are likely to repeat themselves,” Hendon included in her ruling a request that lawmakers “consider a set of standards” governing such sensitive family disputes.

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
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