NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything In It: gender dysphoria and parental rights.
You’ve likely heard about a custody case in Dallas involving a 7-year-old boy named James Younger. His mother insists James wants to be a girl. His father disagrees. Eventually the courts got involved.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: The custody dispute was decided last week. Here with an update on this shocking story is WORLD correspondent Katie Gaultney.
Katie, the details of this case are enough to make a person’s head spin. But big picture, this isn’t just about one little boy, is it? What’s at stake?
KATIE GAULTNEY: You’re right about that. The stakes are high. James’ dad, Jeff Younger, is a believer, and he said that if the court permanently restricted his ability to treat his son as a boy, it would set a terrifying precedent. For one, parents would lose their rights to teach traditional Christian doctrine on sexuality and gender. And from a practical standpoint, he’d lose his right to call his child by his real name and sex-appropriate pronouns. It’s wild.
REICHARD: Okay, let’s back up. Refresh my memory on some of the details here. The mom is dressing her son as a girl?
GAULTNEY: Right, and she’s actually gone further than that and may try to go even further as the years go on. James’ mother, Anne Georgulas, is a pediatrician, and she says James has told her since age 3 he wants to be a girl. So she dresses him as a girl, has his teachers, school friends, everybody, call him by the name “Luna.” Basically everyone in his life treats him like a girl when he’s at school or with his mom. She’s taken James to a gender therapist who suggested that her son may begin hormone-blocking medications in a few years—around the onset of puberty—to delay his growth into an adolescent male. Now, he’s 7, so puberty may be many years off, but the implications in the meantime for her ex-husband, Jeff Younger, are huge. Especially since she has sought legal action to compel Jeff to call James “Luna” and “affirm” him as a girl.
REICHARD: And the dad maintains James does not want to be a girl, right?
GAULTNEY: Exactly. Dad Jeff has said all along that when James is with him, he’s all boy, rough and tumble, sword-fighting and playing with trucks and that kind of thing. And vehemently refusing to wear dresses. Family friends back him up on that. Jeff said his faith compels him to teach James about the way God made him, as a boy, and he can’t pretend that his son is anything but male.
REICHARD: So this dispute went to trial this month. What happened?
GAULTNEY: Well, in short, James’ mom had the resources to bring in several expert witnesses. Her attorneys made James’ dad out to be a control freak who doesn’t care about his son’s best interests. Jeff Younger’s attorneys lined up witnesses to testify that James acts like a boy, and Jeff’s a great dad who wants to do what’s best for his son. After hearing testimony from both sides, the jury recommended that Anne get sole conservatorship of James. That would give her the sole ability to make medical decisions on his behalf.
REICHARD: Katie, let me stop you there for a second and just say: Texas? This is actually happening in Texas? On some level we see the erosion of traditional values on the coasts, but Texas stands in my mind as a bulwark of conservatism. Am I wrong?
GAULTNEY: Yes and no. Certainly this is, in many ways, the buckle of the Bible belt. But then again, Mary, Dallas has been a blue dot in a largely red state for many years. Following the jury’s decision, there was such an outcry from Jeff’s supporters that Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the state’s attorney general vowed to look into the case. State lawmakers have promised to introduce legislation in the next session that would prohibit the use of puberty blockers in cases like this, where the mother and father don’t agree. And prominent figures around the country, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, have condemned the jury’s decision.
REICHARD: So what recourse does the father, Jeff, have at this point?
GAULTNEY: That’s actually one surprising turn of many in this case. While the members of the jury made their recommendation that Anne get sole conservatorship, the judge had the final say. And she thankfully decided to maintain the current arrangement of joint custody. She also required joint decision making over all medical, dental, and psychiatric care for James and his twin brother. So, both parents would need to agree to the use of puberty blockers or other aspects of a “medical transition.”
REICHARD: Well, I’ve seen these contentious proceedings between divorced parents, and I have to wonder if this is really the end.
GAULTNEY: I have the same doubts. It concerns me that the mother was able to make such headway, coming so close to having a court require her husband to treat his son as a girl, making steps toward him transitioning medically, and tying his hands when it comes to teaching Biblical truth. Time will tell how or if this case has an impact in the transgender movement. But it’s important to remember that at the heart of this is a little boy who has to be hurting with all this confusion and discord.
REICHARD: Absolutely. Let’s make a point to pray for James—and both parents. Katie Gaultney, thank you for bringing us this report.
GAULTNEY: You’re welcome, Mary.