Parents Fight For Custody To Stop Their Trans Son From Starting Hormones

“A reasonable parent would never tell their own child to kill themselves because they were going to hell, anyway.”

An Ohio judge will decide whether to grant full custody of a 17-year-old transgender teen to his grandparents, who will allow him to begin hormone therapy, or his parents, who refuse.

According to court records, The teen was hospitalized in 2016 for depression, anxiety, and gender dysphoria, and medical experts testify his father’s refusal to call him by his chosen name and pronouns triggered suicidal feelings. (The family’s names are being kept confidential.)

Following hospitalization, the youth was remanded to the custody of Hamilton County Job and Family Services department and now lives with his grandparents. If the court returns custody to his biological parents, he’ll be forced to wait until he is 18 before transitioning medically.

He’s asked that his grandparents be appointed his legal guardians, as they are willing to making medical decisions with him, including hormone therapy.

Staff from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where the teen was being treated, testified that he’s been improving mentally and emotionally, and they believe the supportive environment of his grandparents is a major factor.

“We think the grandparents are the ones who have an open mind and will … make this sort of decision best for the child,” argued attorney Paul Hunt, who represents HCJFS. “The parents have clearly indicated that they’re not open to it.”

According to prosecutor Don Clancy, the boy’s parents spent the entire case “trying to show that their child is not transgender.” He also alleged they verbally abused their son at home. “A reasonable parent would never tell their own child to kill themselves because they were going to hell anyway,” said Hunt.

A lawyer for the parents, however, argue their child is not in a healthy state of mind to make such decisions. She added that letting him transition will “subject this child to the social stigma of being transgender [and] will only increase the risk of suicide in the future.” But Thomas Mellott, a lawyer representing the teen, told the court that his parents’ forcing him to wear dresses and answer to his birth name “caused additional trauma and anxiety.”

”When you lack all hope, and when he thought this would all continue to happen to him, the suicidal ideation became more pronounced,” said Mellot. “That is how he ended up where he was.”

A juvenile court judge called the case ”a gut-wrenching situation for all of you to face.” Her ruling is expected on Friday.

Zachary Zane is a writer and activist whose work focuses on sexuality, culture, and academic research. He has contributed to The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and The Advocate.