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A judge in Cincinnati has granted legal custody of a 17-year-old transgender boy to his grandparents, paving the way for the teen to potentially undergo hormone therapy, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The boy’s parents had been fighting to prevent him from being able to medically transition, should he choose to do so.
Judge Sylvia Hendon determined that the teen’s maternal grandparents, who accept their grandson’s gender identity, were better suited to make decisions for the teen, who experienced depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation after his parents refused to acknowledge his feelings of gender dysphoria.
The boy’s parents had previously taken him to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in November 2016 to seek psychiatric help for feelings of anxiety and depression. But they were shocked when the hospital diagnosed their child with gender dysphoria, and tried to seek out “Christian-based” treatment rather than gender-affirming counseling and therapies offered by the hospital.
When the teen began backsliding and expressing suicidal thoughts, hospital staff contacted Hamilton County Job and Family Services, which eventually placed the teen with his grandparents.
The boy’s parents partially relented, allowing him to receive traditional therapy and psychiatric counseling at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
Reportedly, the teen has been excelling both academically and musically since receiving that therapy. But his parents continued to fight the hospital’s diagnosis of gender dysphoria and attempted to block the hospital from offering hormone therapy to aid their son’s transition.
The son’s attorney argued in court that his client felt unsafe in the home, and had accused his parents of attempting to subject him to forms of conversion therapy, including being forced to sit in a room and listen to Bible scriptures for more than six hours at a time.
The teen’s parents had previously noted that they wanted their child to continue living with his grandparents even if they were granted decision-making power. But Hendon eventually decided that that power was best left to the grandparents.
However, Hendon has set forth several conditions before the boy can receive hormone therapy. One of those conditions is that the teen must be evaluated by an independent psychologist not affiliated with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. That evaluation, Hendon said, should look at “the issue of consistency in the child’s gender presentation and feelings of nonconformity.”
Hendon also expressed alarm — and a degree of skepticism — around a statement by the director of the hospital’s Transgender Health Clinic, who had told the court that 100 percent of patients seen by the clinic are considered “appropriate candidates for continued gender treatment.” As such, she sympathized with the teen’s parents, who, she noted, were surprised and confused over the hospital’s diagnosis.
Hendon called on Ohio state lawmakers to craft legislation that would allow juvenile courts to evaluate whether a juvenile should have the right to consent to transition-related therapy, noting that similar family disputes are likely to arise in the future.
Living with Change, a local pro-transgender organization in the Cincinnati area, praised Hendon’s decision “to put the safety and medical care of the child first.”
“Forty-one percent of transgender youth attempt suicide in their lifetime, making access to medically necessary care an incredibly important part of living a healthy and complete life,” the organization said in a statement.
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