Metro Weekly

Ohio transgender teen fighting parents in court over right to therapy

Teenager's parents want him to receive "Christian-based" therapy that does not affirm his gender identity

800 Broadway building, where the Hamilton County courts are housed – Photo: Derek Jensen, via Wikimedia.

An Ohio transgender teen is fighting his parents in court over the right to receive affirming therapy to assist with his transition.

His parents do not accept his gender identity and want him to receive “Christian-based” therapy instead, reports WCPO.

The 16-year-old is asking the court to allow him to receive treatment for his gender dysphoria at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Earlier this year, Hamilton County Job and Family Services filed a complaint against the parents for denying him treatment, and asked for temporary custody of the teen out of concern for his well-being. The boy has since been placed with his grandparents while the court fight rages on.

The boy had been seeing a therapist at Children’s Hospital, but his parents put a stop to the sessions, refusing to acknowledge his gender identity and objecting to allowing him to present as male. They later allowed him to resume the therapy because of his anxiety and depression.

Judge Sylvia Hendon closed the hearing to the media in order to protect the family’s privacy, but a complaint filed with the court revealed details of what led the teen to challenge his parents in court.

According to that complaint, the boy’s therapist told the boy’s father that he didn’t “have the coping skills to manage the home situation.” The boy’s mother emailed back, saying she and her husband would find a Christian therapist to treat their child.

In November 2016, the teen emailed a local crisis hotline, telling them that his father had told him to kill himself and his mother refused to put him in any therapy that wasn’t “Christian-based.”

The teen claims at one point he was forced to sit in a room and listen to Bible scriptures for over six hours at a time.

In December 2016, the teen tried to read a letter to his parents explaining his feelings, but his mother screamed at him and called him a liar, causing him to shake and curl up into “the fetal position.”

The trial was expected to continue this week, after which Hendon will determine whether the teen’s wishes trump those of the parents.

The teen’s fight has drawn comparisons to that of Leelah Alcorn, a 16-year-old transgender girl who clashed with her parents over her desire to transition.

Alcorn left behind a suicide note blaming her parents for forcing her to undergo conversion therapy, after which she killed herself by walking into traffic on a major interstate and getting struck by a car.

Daniel Stultz, the manager of Safe and Supported at Lighthouse Youth and Family Services, criticized the parents’ approach to their son’s gender identity.

“We know that when a young person is told they can’t go to therapy to support who they are, that has really detrimental effects,” Stultz told WCPO. “Imagine being told that some really important part of yourself isn’t valid, isn’t important, isn’t respected. That has huge impacts on how we view ourselves and our self-worth.”

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at