Ohio Parents Lose Custody After Blocking Transgender Son's Transition

An Ohio couple lost legal custody of their son on Friday after refusing to allow him to undergo hormone replacement.

In her ruling, Hamilton County Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon awarded legal custody to the 17-year-old teen’s maternal grandparents, who are in support of his transition and will allow him to receive hormone replacement therapy. The judge also called upon legislators to enact laws that will give transgender minors more legal rights in such situations.

The parents were preventing their 17-year-old son from transitioning even though he was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, depression, and anxiety. Medical experts had testified that the father’s ongoing refusal to call the child by his chosen name and the parents’ rejection of the teen’s gender identity have triggered suicidal feelings. They also said the they were augmenting his condition by denying him access to medically necessary treatments.

During the proceedings, Donald Clancy of the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office argued that the parents didn’t want their child to receive hormone replacement therapy because of their religious beliefs. According to a transcript of Clancy’s closing argument, the “Father testified that any kind of transition at all would go against his core beliefs and allowing the child to transition would be akin to him taking his heart out of his chest and placing it on the table.” Clancy had also said that although the father testified he “fully accepts” his child, he additionally said that having the teen come home would “warp” his siblings’ perception of reality. Clancy also claimed the parents had temporarily stopped their child’s mental health counseling while forcing him to instead undergo “Christian” therapy. The teen said he was forced to sit in a room and listen to Bible readings for over six hours at a time.

According to the complaint, in November 2016, the teen had contacted a crisis chat service to say he felt unsafe in his parents’ home. He also reported that his father told him to kill himself, because he was “going to hell anyway.”

Hamilton County Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon(Photo: OhioChannel.org)

​The judge awarded the grandparents the right to consent to the child’s petition to change his name filed in petition court. They will be required to provide health insurance while also having the right to determine what kind of medical care he receives.

“What is clear from the testimony presented in this case and the increasing worldwide interest in transgender care is that there is certainly a reasonable expectation that circumstances similar to the one at bar are likely to repeat themselves,’ the judge wrote in her decision. “The Legislature should consider a set of standards by which the Court is able to judge and act upon that minor’s request based upon the child’s maturity.”

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