Grandparents given custody of transgender teen after parents oppose hormone treatment

Tanya Edwards
Photo: Getty Images

An Ohio judge has given custody of a transgender teen to his grandparents instead of his parents, who objected to his transition. The new custody arrangement will allow the grandparents to make medical decisions for the teen, KTLA5 reports.

The parents of the 17-year-old (who identifies as male) did not want him to receive hormone treatments and refused to call him by his chosen name, according to testimony in court, which was triggering suicidal feelings in the young man.

Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon’s ruling says that in addition to receiving custody, the grandparents can petition to change the child’s name in probate court. The teen will now be covered by the grandparents’ insurance.

The parents wanted to retain custody in order to make medical decisions for the teen and prohibit the treatment that his medical team had recommended.

This is an important ruling, because it addresses the searing reality that nearly half — 41 percent — of trans people attempt suicide at some point in their lives, according to the Trevor Project.

Contributing to these attempts are many factors, including feeling victimized, misgendered, and rejected by society, according to study by Rylan Testa, an assistant professor of psychology at Rhodes College. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, released by the National Center for Transgender Equality, found that 60 percent of respondents who are out to their immediate family received support from those people about their identity. Still, 10 percent of respondents who had come out to their immediate family experienced violence from a family member because of their identity.

The teen has been receiving treatment at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, who advised the court that he should start treatment as soon as possible to decrease his suicide risk. However, before any hormone treatment is allowed, the court has ordered the teen evaluated by a psychologist who is not affiliated with Cincinnati Children’s on “the issue of consistency in the child’s gender presentation, and feelings of non-conformity.”

The parents’ attorney argued that the young man was not “even close to being able to make such a life-altering decision at this time.” However, Judge Hendon granted visitation rights to the parents, encouraging them “to work toward a reintegration of the child into the extended family.”

If you are transgender and need someone to talk to, you can call the Trevor Project Lifeline, 866-488-7386, and Trans Lifeline for the U.S., 877-565-8860.

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