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Ohio father loses custody of 14-year-old transgender child, could lose right to object to injections or surgery

“I love my 14 year old daughter very much but I do not believe she is capable of making such a life altering decision of sex change. I’m very concerned that she could come to regret the irreversible effects caused by hormone treatment, double mastectomy, and attachment of male sex organs.”

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be accurate.

Lucas Holtvluwer Montreal, QC

An Ohio man lost temporary custody of his transgender child to his ex-wife with a documented history of mental illness last December for refusing to agree to transgender sex changes for his biological daughter.

The father, who asked that the identities of himself and his family not be made public, has been divorced from his ex-wife since 2012. To help keep the story straight, we’ll assign the pseudonyms of “Joe” to the father, “Rose” to the mother, “Susie” to the 14-year-old transgender daughter, and “Dan” and “Kim” to the other two children.

Joe and Rose divorced in 2012 due to Rose’s ongoing affair with a felon convicted of assaulting his three year old daughter in 1996. Following the divorce, Joe maintained full legal custody of all three children, with Rose being given different levels of visiting privileges over the years based on her mental state and living quarters.

In the summer of 2018, after being released for the third time from a psychiatric hospital after being admitted for self harm, Susie began identifying as a male. Her father Joe agreed to call her by her new name of “Skylar” and use masculine pronouns when referring to her. Her siblings, Dan, 16, and Kim, 12, also agreed to do so as well.

However, despite their acceptance, Susie behaved in an erratic and irritable fashion and would explode into fits of rage, particularly if her younger sister forgot to use her correct pronoun.

During this time period, Rose kept calling Susie’s therapists telling them that Susie was transgender and claiming Joe was transphobic. Rose also requested that the court conduct a psychological investigation into Joe, which the court granted alongside a psychological investigation into the whole family, including Rose.  

As Susie became more and more erratic, it became increasingly clear to Joe that he could no longer protect her from herself. To ease the household tension, the psychologist who had been evaluating the family throughout this time period recommended that Susie go to live with Rose, with Joe maintaining legal custody because Rose was not capable of making rational decisions.

Seven months after Susie moved in with her mother, Rose requested an ex parte (emergency) order from the court, which was granted, giving her temporary legal custody of Susie. At this point, Susie had shaved her head, withdrawn from public school, was taking online classes, and was going by the name “Charlie.”

Following the ex parte order ruling, Joe was asked to sign over permanent legal custody of Susie to Rose by Rose’s attorney. Joe refused, on the grounds that he felt it was paramount for him to maintain custody of his daughter to prevent her from making any permanent changes to her body before she at least reached the legal age of adulthood.

Following this, Rose filed to obtain permanent custody of Susie. Her case will be decided by a magistrate in Greene County on June 28, 2019.

In addition to losing control over whether his daughter can receive hormone injections or gender reassignment surgery, Joe is also concerned that Rose’s request will limit his ability to raise his other children according to his Christian beliefs.

Rose’s proposed order contains a section which forces both parents to enroll all three children in individual “non-faith based counselling” as well as family counselling sessions. The order also states that both parents shall “comply with all recommendations of the counsellor(s) and not remove the children unless advised by the treating counselor.”

If this order is accepted by the court, Joe fears he won’t be able to take his other children to church or read with the Bible with them as any of the “non faith-based” counsellors could object to such practices as transphobic since the biblical view of gender is that “male and female he created them.”

If he refuses to heed the counsellor’s instructions, Joe could face fines or even jail time.

I love my 14 year old daughter very much but I do not believe she is capable of making such a life-altering decision of sex change. I’m very concerned that she could come to regret the irreversible effects caused by hormone treatment, double mastectomy, and attachment of male sex organs.
The father of the transgender daughter

In an email to The Post Millennial, Joe’s local pastor (name redacted to protect the family’s anonymity) wrote “I believe that if the facts of this case are all accurate, it would mean the government can usurp the parents’ role by forcing them to both violate their faith as well as making their children submit to those unbiblical positions. I believe this would be a terrible violation of religious freedom and parental rights.”

April Moore, the attorney for Rose did not respond to a request for comment.

This isn’t the first time parental and transgender rights have clashed in Ohio. In February 2018, an Ohio judge removed a 17 year old transgender teen from the custody of her parents and placed her with her grandparents because of her parents refusal to accept her male gender identity and allow her to receive hormone therapy.

Because of this case, Ohio lawmaker Tom Brinkman introduced HB 658 aimed at strengthening parental rights for children under age 18. The bill reached the committee stage but has not been reintroduced 133rd General Assembly following the November 2018 election.

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