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NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

NJIT's Student Newspaper

The Vector

What are your thoughts on the custody battle predicated on the parents’ debate over the ender identity of their child?


[one_third]LiberalColin Bayne

The case of the trans child with disagreeing parents in Texas has been co-opted by right-wing pundits as a case of the evils of a state-enforced radical left-wing agenda. They have claimed that it condemns a child to abuse and denies a father his rights to raise his child. However, this narrative is so blatantly disingenuous that I am left somewhat dumbfounded.

All the facts of the case point to the child clearly being trans, receiving multiple concurring diagnoses from neutral parties approved by both parents, and exhibiting all the symptoms and signs of gender dysphoria, as confirmed by Child Protective Services and interviews with family and teachers.

The case is clearly one of the child’s father wishing to enforce his religious views in spite of the medical advice of doctors and therapists, at the likely cost of the child’s own mental health. The normal course of action for young trans children is to simply allow them to make the choices they want to in all aspects of gender presentation, including clothing, names and pronouns.. This affirms their sense of self, and gives them all the agency in the situation. No medical intervention is ever advised until the onset of puberty, when a consultation usually takes place to determine if the child should be placed on puberty blocking medications. These halt the onset of puberty until the child is ready and able to begin hormone replacement therapy (HRT) provided they maintain their conviction.

This case has not even come close to progressing to the second stage. The child is seven, and no one is advocating medical intervention to perform a sex change, HRT or any other such nonsense that the conservative media has reported.

While this case is clearly an example of disingenuous reporting, in a more general sense, there are still many who do not believe that trans children should be allowed to have a say in their identity. As the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveyshowed, trans youth are three-to-five times more likely than cisgender youth to experience sexual or physical violence, nearly twice as likely to experience depression and five times more likely to attempt suicide. However, a study from 2010 showed that family support of trans identities can reduce suicide risk by 50%. In addition, a 2015 study by the Endocrine Society showed that treating gender dysphoria lowered mental health problems in 75% of trans patients.

This is a matter of life and death for so many people. Science, empathy and common sense all support giving trans people the respect and dignity of choosing their path forward, and stories like these where conservative media misreports scenarios to generate controversy only make trans lives harder.

[one_third]Independent Anthony McGinnis

The controversy with the recent divorce case in Dallas is centered around a father potentially losing custody because of his stance that his seven-year-old child is not transgender and should not transition. Most people would generally agree that refusal to give a child medical treatment for their illness or disorder is an appropriate reason for a parent to lose custody in a divorce. The issue is that some people don’t see transgender as a legitimate identity, don’t believe gender dysphoria is being properly diagnosed and don’t believe transitioning is a viable treatment of gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria is a mental disorder that is characterized by an individual’s extreme discomfort with their biological sex. Clinics that specialize in treating gender dysphoria in children will offer family counseling, psychotherapy and hormone therapy. The issue many people have with hormone therapy for transgender children and teens is that it can reduce one’s ability to have their own children. Typically, children who transition are given puberty blockers, which prevent secondary sex characteristics from forming, and hormone replacement therapy when they reach their teenage year. There must be extreme caution taken when diagnosing gender dysphoria in children and treating it with hormone therapy, as there is the risk of permanently damaging an individual’s endocrine system.

A parent should not lose custody of a child solely for not allowing them to transition, as there are understandable risks. However, if a child legitimately has gender dysphoria and a parent refuses to even acknowledge that or treat it in any way, even without any hormone therapy, then they are willfully letting their child’s condition go untreated. Obviously, these situations must be judged on a case by case basis, and while this should not be the sole determinant in deciding custody, it should definitely be a factor for consideration. There always should be a doctor’s diagnosis of gender dysphoria for it to be a determining factor.

[one_third]ConservativeMark Pothen

In the gender identity custody case, the entire case can be adjudicated by the fact that the child decided to go to school dressed as a male instead of a female. The mother, Dr. Anne Georgolus, was potentially willing to administer puberty blockers on the basis that she believed that the child was making a proclamation of their actual gender and went so far as to completely socially transition them, yet the father claims that the child chose to go to school dressed as a boy. This completely undercuts her argument that her child identifies as a female.

During the trial, it was revealed that the child first wanted to be called Starfire, a cartoon character in the popular children’s cartoon Teen Titans Go. Georgolus then proceeded to dissuade him, and to settle on the name Luna. The truth, which is also true for most children, is that the child was living in a complete realm of fantasy making the verbal proclamation that they wanted to be identified as a female cartoon character.

Georgolus wouldn’t allow her child to go by Starfire. The mother wouldn’t allow the child to have a say in the new name, however, she would allow the child to completely change sex. The entire role of a parent is to guide a child and set guard rails for them. It is difficult to understand how parents will not take a child seriously when they say that they want to be a mermaid or animal but are expected to do so when a child says that they want to be a female. 

Furthermore, it makes absolutely no sense to permanently change a child who may potentially desist from self-identification as a member of the opposite sex. This is especially true when studies, though limited, show that the majority of children who show signs of gender dysphoria at a young age cease to do so at an older age. 

Now, this is not to say that an individual should not be able to receive procedures if they wish to transition to the opposite sex. Rather, it should be after they are an adult and can make their own decisions instead of it being a lifelong decision made by a parent that the child will have to live with.      

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