Cynthia M. Allen

Custody battle over 7-year-old Texan James Younger takes transgender activism too far

When divorces turn nasty, the parties will often deploy an array of emotional weapons to inflict injury on their estranged spouse. But when the weapon involves emotionally, and even physically, disfiguring their child, the community needs to speak out.

Consider the case of Jeffery Younger and Anne Georgulas and their twins, James and Jude (both biological males).

On Tuesday, a Dallas jury recommended that Georgulas have custody of the children. That wouldn’t be newsworthy except that the decision could have left one of the children vulnerable to chemical and surgical intervention that could cause the child unnecessary physical and emotional harm, including infertility.

Georgulas contends that James identifies as female, a claim very much in dispute, and wants for him to transition into life as a girl — first socially, then medically.

Since James was 3, she has referred to him as such. James dresses in girls’ clothing at his mother’s house and all authority figures at the twins’ school — where James is called “Luna” and uses the girls’ bathroom — affirm his female identity. At trial, Georgulas produced witnesses, including doctors, who support this approach, even while acknowledging that the child’s gender identity is fluid.

Her original court filing sought to limit Younger’s time with the twins and require him to treat and refer to James as a girl.

FATHER’S DISPUTE

Younger disputes his ex-wife’s assessment, claiming that the child’s female persona is the product of Georgulas’ delusion. He contends that the child behaves as a boy and wants to be treated as one when not in her presence. Younger produced witnesses who suggested their child’s behavior does not meet the clinical standards for gender dysphoria.

Even so, Younger hasn’t closed his mind to the possibility of his child’s gender dysphoria; he has advocated for “watchful waiting” instead.

That isn’t a radically conservative approach to gender dysphoria in youth; research suggests that the vast majority of gender-dysphoric kids (as high as 84 percent) will, in the long-term, end up identifying with their biological sex. In fact, it’s the approach employed by Kenneth Zucker, the Canadian child psychologist who had a leading role helping devise diagnostic and treatment guidelines for gender dysphoric and transgender individuals.

Zucker was recently vindicated when his former employer publicly apologized for erroneously representing his behavior and work and, under pressure from trans activists, unceremoniously firing him for allegedly engaging in“conversion therapy.”

But you don’t need to be a child psychologist to appreciate how powerful a child’s imagination can be, how irrational many of their decisions are, or how stubbornly they may insist that their perception is reality. (My 3-year-old is absolutely certain that wearing a T-shirt will make her a boy. It’s a notion she developed entirely on her own because I wear pants and T-shirts all the time.)

But most of how children understand the world is through the eyes of their parents. That’s why they repeat what we say (often to our chagrin), believe the things we tell them, and come to love the things we do. While adolescence is marked by defiance and rebellion, most young children desire little more than to gratify their parents. Which is part of what makes this situation so disconcerting.

DIVORCE COMPLICATES IT

Let’s not forget that this is the child of a contentious divorce, a situation that complicates any child’s efforts to adapt and desire to please. It also makes the child vulnerable to manipulation.

If the testimony of Younger’s witnesses is accurate, the gender dysphoria may be mostly an effort to satisfy the mother.

At the very least, it’s fair to be circumspect about the alleged gender dysphoria given the messiness of his parents’ relationship.

Georgulas stated she would persue a puberty blocker and cross-sex hormone regimen, which could begin as early as the ripe old age of nine, when James is still unlikely to have the wherewithal or independence to make a decision that will forever change his life.

Indeed, Georgulas’ behavior has a Munchausen quality to it: subjecting an otherwise healthy child to unnecessary medical care and procedures.

It’s baffling how a jury of Texans — Texans! — didn’t see it this way.

Fortunately, the judge did. On Thursday afternoon, she ruled that the parents will have joint conservatorship and will share authority in making decisions about their child’s medical care.

It was a bold decision, especially since trans activism has become a powerful political force.

In some cases, activists even control or manipulate research on transgender outcomes and silence studies or voices that suggest anything unfavorable to their cause, making it increasingly difficult to question the science behind transgender ideology. That’s less of a concern in cases involving consenting adults. But where children are concerned, we shouldn’t just be skeptical, we should be outraged.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday that the state will open an investigation into the case. That’s good. If adults want to make their divorce an exercise in mutually assured destruction, that’s one thing. Just leave the 7-year-old out of it.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

Cynthia Allen joined the Star-Telegram Editorial Board in 2014 after a decade of working in government and public affairs in Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Editorial Board and writes a weekly opinion column on a wide array of topics, including politics, faith and motherhood.
  Comments