Parental Rights: A Casualty of the Transgender Revolution

If the medical establishment deems “transitioning” in the best interest of a legal minor and the parents object on moral or religious grounds, legal precedent now exists that suggests that parental rights can be severed in the interest of countenancing transgender orthodoxy.


On February 16, 2018, Ohio Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon handed down a decision in Hamilton County Juvenile Court that removed a gender dysphoric child from the custody of her biological parents and awarded custody to the child’s grandparents. The decision was made on the grounds that the grandparents are affirming of the seventeen-year-old’s desire to undergo “transition” through hormone therapy, while the parents question the child’s judgment and object to the transition on religious grounds.

While it is true that the parents had already agreed to allow the child to live with the grandparents prior to the ruling, the issue at stake is not where the child resides. It is this: Who possesses authority to make prudent medical decisions in the best interest of the child? According to Judge Hendon’s ruling, the answer is the state of Ohio.

A Problematic Ruling

In her decision, the judge herself noted that “It is not within this Court’s jurisdiction to intrude on the treatment of a child except in the very rare circumstance when the child’s life hangs in the balance of treatment versus non-treatment.” The judge then dismisses allegations that the child’s life hangs in the balance, based on medical record testimony. So, if the judge acknowledges that imminent suicide is not likely, why did she nullify the parents’ rights? On what grounds did the judge take such drastically invasive and precedent-setting action?

The judge’s decision seems all the more imprudently decided in light of the fact that the child lived consistently in accordance with her birth sex as late as summer 2016, despite a prolonged pattern of mental health setbacks. The judge even acknowledges that recommended treatment protocols for gender-dysphoric individuals are “evolving rapidly and there is a surprising lack of definitive clinical study available to determine the success of different treatment modalities.” So how can the child’s best interests be determined by the courts when, in the judge’s own words, a “lack of definitive clinical study” is available? Allowing a child access to hormone treatment by taking the drastic step of revoking parental custody requires a better answer than the speculation provided by Judge Hendon.

The judge’s ruling, which goes so far as to nullify parental rights, relies on problematic transgender ideology. Consider this excerpt:

It is unfortunate that this case required resolution by the Court as the family would have been best served if this could have been settled within the family after all parties had ample exposure to the reality of the fact that the child truly may be gender non-conforming and has a legitimate right to pursue life with a different gender identity than the one assigned at birth.

Acknowledging the psychological reality of gender dysphoria does not grant the ontological status of someone’s being, truly, a member of the opposite sex.

The judge then recommends that Ohio’s legislature adopt a legal framework in the event that similar cases arise in the future, which the judge recognizes is inevitable given the “increasing worldwide interest in transgender care.” Despite the severing of custody rights, the court’s ruling thankfully upholds visitation rights and encourages the family to work toward a “reintegration of the child into the extended family.”

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