For the far-right, a Texas custody battle over a seven-year-old child has become the battleground for its fight against transgender rights. But according to experts, that’s only hurting trans kids more
By EJ Dickson
October 28, 2019
If there’s one thing the right loves, it’s to wring their hands and concern-troll over the welfare of transgender children. It’s not uncommon for right-wing pundits and politicians to accuse parents of using their children as pawns and ignoring their children’s welfare in service of their so-called left-wing agenda — and in so doing, ignore the very real, very urgent health crisis facing transgender youth today. A recent court case in Texas has generated rabid backlash from right-wing pundits and politicians alike, and is serving as a lightning rod in the right’s larger effort to erode transgender rights — while simultaneously putting actual transgender children at tremendous risk.
Last Thursday, a Dallas judge ruled that Anne Georgulas and her ex-husband Jeffrey Younger, who have been embroiled in a years-long custody battle, should have joint custody over their 7-year-old transgender child, who self-identifies as female. (Rolling Stone has chosen not to name the child to protect her privacy.)
Georgulas and Younger have been publicly vying for custody for two years, with Younger alleging that Georgulas, a pediatrician, “manipulated” their child into believing that the child self-identified as a girl, and that the mother pushed for the child to undergo medical transition at a young age. Georgulas’ defense has countered that this is untrue, and that she was not requesting sole custody of the child nor to medically transition her, but for Younger to use the child’s correct pronouns and otherwise affirm her gender identity. Judge Kim Cooks ruled that both parents will have equal say in their child’s medical care, and that they will attend mandatory counseling with their children. (The child at the center of the custody dispute has a male twin.)
Judge Cooks’ ruling is notable because it came just a few days after a jury previously ruled 11-1 in favor of Georgulas, granting her sole custody. The jury’s ruling had struck a nerve among conservatives, many of whom have spent months rallying in support of Younger. Last week, Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted that the jury’s decision in favor of Georgulas was “horrifying and tragic,” adding, “For a parent to subject such a young child to life-altering hormone blockers to medically transition their sex is nothing less than child abuse.” Donald Trump Jr. also weighed in, tweeting: “This is child abuse. People need to start to stand up against this bullshit. Enough is enough.”
Texas legislators also responded with outrage. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted that the Texas Attorney General’s office and the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services would be launching an investigation into the case, including probing claims of “possible child abuse” against the child. In a letter sent last week to the Department of Family and Protective Services, First Assistant Attorney General Jeff Mateer inaccurately accused Georgulas of proposing “chemically and surgically altering [the child’s] biological sex based on her belief that he may identify as a girl,” which would lead to “permanent and potentially irreversible harm.” (As Jezebel notes, Mateer has a history of using transphobic language, including describing transgender children as part of “Satan’s plan” in 2017.)