MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: gender dysphoria and parental rights.
MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: A custody case in Dallas is making national headlines because it involves a new form of so-called mistreatment: transgender child abuse. Family courts have wide latitude to influence children’s lives. They determine everything from where children live to how often they can see their non-custodial parents, all based on what’s in the children’s best interest.
REICHARD: But what happens when parents disagree about their child’s very nature? WORLD Radio correspondent Katie Gaultney has been following this case in her home town and joins us now to talk about it.
Good morning, Katie!
KATIE GAULTNEY, REPORTER: Good morning, Mary!
REICHARD: Katie, we’ve talked on the program before about gender dysphoria and transgender issues. But this story seems to take that narrative a bit further. This involves a local court telling a father he can’t raise his son as a boy?
GAULTNEY: Right, the details of this one are pretty shocking. Let me give you some background first. The boy at the center of all of this is James Younger, and he’s just 6 years old. He has a twin brother, Jude. Four years ago, the boys’ parents divorced, and mom Anne Georgulas, a pediatrician, keeps the boys most of the week. Well, James’ dad, Jeff, learned that Anne had begun dressing James as a girl and calling him by the name Luna. She had also asked James’ teachers and classmates to call him Luna. Anne even got James diagnosed by a gender therapist as having gender dysphoria.
REICHARD: This sounds like a severe case of divorced parents disagreeing on how to bring up their children. How does the Dallas court system fit into all this?
GAULTNEY: Sure. Anne has filed a petition in Dallas County family court to limit Jeff’s time with his sons and actually impose penalties on him for treating James as a boy. In a court filing, Anne accuses Jeff of “non-affirming behavior” toward James—cutting his hair into a boy style, calling him “James” instead of Luna, stuff like that. While the case moves through the court system, Anne was successful in getting an injunction against her ex-husband. It keeps Jeff from calling James anything but “Luna” outside the home and prevents him from getting James’ hair cut. He’s also enjoined from trying to convince his son that he really is a boy, which Jeff says prevents him from teaching his son traditional Christian doctrine on sexuality and gender. On top of all of that, he’s also expected to pay for half the cost of counseling and medical therapies related to James’ gender transition.
REICHARD: Counseling and therapies? What does that entail when it comes to a 6-year-old boy?
GAULTNEY: James’ mother is taking him to the GENECIS clinic in Dallas, which actually performs sex change operations on children. Doctors there have James on something called the Dutch protocol: First they provide counseling to the child and family and begin socially transitioning the child to the opposite gender. Hormone therapy begins around the age of puberty, and they then do surgery for sex reassignment beginning as early as age 15.
REICHARD: Fifteen seems really early to do permanent, life changing surgery. That is really disturbing!
GAULTNEY: It is disturbing, yeah, and that’s part of why this story is gaining attention. Jeff insists, and other friends outside of James’ life with his mom affirm, that James acts like a little boy, through and through, when he’s with them. Some friends of Jeff’s have said publicly that when their own boys play with Jeff’s twins, they’re all rough and tumble and behave just like you would expect boys of that age to act. They even say James vehemently refuses toys, games, and clothing that could be considered even the slightest bit feminine. And he draws pictures of himself as a boy.
REICHARD: So, Katie, help me understand: If James is willingly acting like a boy, why would his mom even get him evaluated for gender dysphoria?
GAULTNEY: Yeah, I had the same question. And James’ mom has publicly kept pretty quiet on this, so it’s hard to ascertain if James willingly shows a preference for feminine things or exhibits a desire to be a girl when he’s with her. A dossier filed with the court here in Dallas says that James’ gender therapist presented him with two pieces of paper, one with the name “James” and one with the name “Luna,” and asked him to pick the name he preferred. When it was just James, his mom, and the therapist, he chose “Luna.” But when it was just James, his dad, and the therapist, he chose “James,” not the girl name. So it could be that he’s just a kid who wants to please his parents, and he’s confused about how to go about that.
REICHARD: Well what’s next for James and Jeff both in this saga?
GAULTNEY: Obviously the details of this situation are sad and shocking, but one of the most surprising things is how a local court has been able to effectively remove many of Jeff’s parental rights just because he wants to treat his son as a boy. Jeff, a believer, says that if the court moves to permanently restrict his ability to treat his son as a boy, it sets a terrifying precedent: Parents will lose their rights to teach traditional Christian doctrine on sexuality and gender; to call their children by their real names and sex-appropriate pronouns; and ultimately to raise their children free from the government inference. So Jeff and his supporters are encouraging people to write to their state representatives to make what they’re calling “transgender child abuse” illegal.
REICHARD: Sounds sensible enough to me. And certainly we should pray for James and all parties involved in this tough and traumatic case.
REICHARD: Katie Gaultney is a WORLD Radio correspondent based in Dallas. Katie, thanks for this report.
GAULTNEY: You’re welcome, Mary.