Should a Child’s Gender Identity be Decided by One Parent or the Courts?


Tom Lemons, Legal Correspondent

July 26, 2021

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Ayo & Iken Law Firm.

FLORIDA – The University of Florida defines gender dysphoria as a person who feels deep discomfort and distress over the sex they were born with because it does not match their gender identity. Theorists claim the cause of the “mismatch” is not fully understood but that it could be a combination of genetic factors, hormones, and even cultural and environmental influences.


In recent years, gender dysphoria in prepubescent children has become a hotly contested issue, especially in high-conflict custody disputes. In some cases, children as young as 3-years-old are being told they are of a different sex than the one matching their chromosomes. This has led to some parents taking drastic measures to permanently change the sex of their child. One such case in Texas made national headlines after a man refused to accept his ex-wife’s efforts to transition their son into a girl.


Jeff Younger and his ex-wife Anne Georgulas divorced in 2016 when their twin sons James and Jude were just 3-years-old. Georgulas, a pediatrician, believes their son is a female and refers to him as “Luna.” Younger claims his ex-wife is planning to use puberty blockers, chemical castration, and even surgical reassignment surgery by the time James is a teenager. Georgulas denies the allegations, but she is fighting to have full decision-making power over James’ medical and psychiatric treatment.


The dispute over “James” versus “Luna” has persisted for over 6 years and there doesn’t seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. Earlier this month, the perturbed parents found themselves in front of a judge once again, after Younger violated a gag order which prohibited him from discussing the case outside the courtroom. Instead, Younger vowed to bring as much attention to his son’s case and has since participated in several interviews with the media, including the Ayo & Iken Law Firm.


I spoke with Jeff Younger during a recent Black Robe Regiment conference in Orlando, Florida, where he explained how exercising his First Amendment Right could land him behind bars for up to a year. Click Here to Watch Interview


During the interview, Younger explained how his son’s teachers and school counselors only recognize him as a girl and participate in the mother’s efforts to transition James into Luna. “When I brought him to school in boys’ clothing the teacher would give him a dress,” says Younger. According to Younger, his ex-wife filed a motion to terminate his parental rights and in 2019 the estranged couple returned to court for a jury trial. Younger says, “I was not allowed to present my son as a boy to third parties; I was not allowed to teach him that he is a boy; I was not allowed to teach him traditional Christian understanding of sexuality and gender; I was not allowed to speak in public about anything that was happening to my son, so they were very onerous conditions.” Due to his intentional violation of the judge’s order, Younger was forced to return to court earlier this month, where he could have faced up to a year in jail for violating the order. However, his ex-wife’s attorney did not push the issue and Younger was not held in contempt. Younger continues his very vocal plight to save his son from being reassigned as a girl.


You might think cases like that of James “Luna” are rare, but the debate over whether a prepubescent child can understand sexuality and make a life-altering decision are becoming more common. There are even clinics and hospitals around the country dedicated to assisting children with psychological, hormonal therapy, and full surgical reassignment surgery.


According to a recent study conducted by Dr. Maurice Garcia of the Cedar-Sinai Transgender Surgery and Health Program, 73% of transgender women and 78% of transgender men first experienced gender dysphoria by age 7. Garcia says he undertook the study because of the high rate of depression, anxiety, and even attempts at self-harm in transgender patients. But parents like Jeff Younger say children should wait until after puberty to begin the process of psychological therapy, introducing puberty blockers or performing irreversible surgical procedures.


Experts say children who are transgender will be insistent, persistent and consistent in their assertion that they are the opposite sex. Younger says his son does not fit that profile because James does not act like a girl when he is with him. Younger says his son is just trying to please both parents and that his ex-wife is pressuring James to act like a girl.


Opponents of the issue say children do not associate gender with sexuality and they often pretend or act like the opposite sex as part of natural childhood development. Encouraging a curious child to pursue opposite sex could result in the same adverse psychological effects as that of real transgender children.


Howard Ellzey is one of the Ayo & Iken Law Firm’s more outspoken attorneys and he didn’t mince words when it came to voicing his own opinion of the issue. Ellzey believes progressive politics plays a major role in the recent increase in cases of transgender children. “What they are doing in Texas, and I assume in Florida and other states, is an intentional favoring of sexual deviancy and genital mutilation, and sexual abuse, and chemical castration, and all other tools the left is trying to impose on the rest of us. A three-year-old has no sense of what their sexuality is except what’s put onto them by a demented parent and what’s thrust on them by the media and social media and television and Disney and Nickelodeon.”


Jeff Younger says his ex-wife showed James gay pornography as part of the “affirmation” treatment. Books such as the Gay B C’s, authored by M.L. Webb, offers a vocabulary of words associated with the LGBTQ community, like C is for Coming Out, Q is for Queer, and T is for Trans. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley details how to perform oral sex, anal sex, vaginal sex, and mutual masturbation to children ages 10 and up. Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, which is categorized as a book for children 3-5 years of age, uses two worms as a representation of male genitalia to discuss how the marriage process works for two men. Ellzey says, “If a father showed pornography to his daughter, do you think that in a heartbeat the courts wouldn’t be up in arms and rip that child away from that father? Even if a child accidentally found pornography and the father didn’t intentionally introduce that material to a child, they would throw that father under the jail for whatever variety of sex offenses and toss away the key. Allowing this kind of material to be used to ‘affirm’ one parent’s presumption that a child is transgender is nothing short of abuse,” says Ellzey.


I asked Ellzey how he would handle a similar case like the Younger’s. He said, “My immediate response would have been to file a motion for a mental health evaluation of the mother for trying to reassign the gender of a 3-year-old. I would also petition to have any decision-making responsibility taken from the mother based on that alone.” I explained that in the Younger case, the courts have favored the mother’s position and that of the counselors assigned to treat James. Ellzey says, “Clearly you have a court that needs a mental health evaluation. It is political bull***t. The problem is that people are inserting their political bull***t into our judicial process in such a way that individual rights and children’s rights are being horribly trampled upon. You’ve got a bunch of political sickos out there trying to use the court to inflict their desire upon the rest of the public.”


Ellzey explains the obligations of an attorney and voices his frustration over attorneys who remain silent on matters this critical to parents on both sides of the issue. “In today’s political environment, attorneys know their professional obligation is to not value judge any individual; but rather, to look at facts and to apply the law to those fact patterns and to advocate for their client’s best interest in accordance with the rules, processes, procedures, facts and the truth. Attorneys have the right to take cases they want, and they sometimes have an obligation to take cases that may present difficult issues.” Ellzey continues, “There are other cases that come along where an attorney is not permitted to represent a client. If I find a client’s position to be so repulsive and so morally repugnant, there is no way that I would be able to meet my professional obligation to zealously advocate that position.”


Florida has several clinics and hospitals that treat gender dysphoria and aid in the affirmation process for children of most age groups. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides a full guide to understanding gender dysphoria, how to determine if a child is transgender or just experiencing normal childhood development, and all available treatments for children who are diagnosed as transgender.


NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Ayo & Iken Law Firm.


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