A father in New York state is fighting for his child to be allowed to grow up. The child's mother, the medical industry, and the court are pressing for the 11-year-old to be permitted to take drugs that would disrupt puberty, potentially stunting her development and leading to sterility.
The father to the middle-schooler, whose is not named in order to protect his family, has been instructed by the court to call his child by the new, chosen name, new preferred pronouns, and to refer to the child as being of the new, chosen gender. Neither parent is allowed, under court order, to talk to the child about “anything gender related,” he said.
That order came down in April, and the mother demanded full custody. This would give her the right to medically transition the child without the father's consent. That request, along with the mother's request for a court of protection against , and sole use of the family's home, were both rejected by the court. The parents are seeking divorce, and this issue is the primary disagreement between them.
A fundraiser has been launched to ask for “help to keep [his] daughter a girl,” and stop the child from being transitioned by mother, doctors, and school. The father has told The Post Millennial that he will fight as hard as he can to protect his child from medical gender transition, though puberty blocking drugs have been recommended. The father said that child's mother told him she will “die on this hill.”
The story began when the child was in a beauty pageant when she was about 6 or 7 years old. “Her dream was to be in a pageant,” the father told The Post Millennial. When the child was about 8-years-old, things began to change. The child said that “girly clothes and dresses” were no longer to their liking, and opted to change style of dress away from things that present more traditionally as feminine.
This was not of concern to the father. “I have no problem with that. Tomboys actually do exist still,” he said. But it was eventually disconcerting for him to find that his wife had been keeping information about their child from him. He said that she went further than that, explaining to the child that when a girl becomes a woman she will “grow breasts like their mom does and bleed from their vagina.”
“Unbeknownst to me,” he said, “for a year, my wife and child hid this between the two of them, that my daughter was wanting to be a boy,” in large part due to the terror instilled in the child by the graphically unpleasant images of growing up. “So my child, scared out of her mind at 8-years-old, says ‘I don't want that to happen. I will cut off my breasts and I want to be a boy.'” After that, the mother initiated a social transition for the child.
The child started to socially transition at school at the start of 4th grade. The father said he was “informed, and signed a document to allow the school to do so, to keep the peace and stop all the arguing and fighting from mom about the name, and in an attempt to save the marriage.”
The child was referred to the gender clinic at Golisano Children's Hospital, visited with a provider through telemedicine, and met with Daran Shipman, a marriage and family therapist who consulted virtually. Shipman is committed to gender affirmation, saying “I support/affirm adults & youth as they navigate their unique gender journey. This includes providing support letters when necessary to begin or continue a medical transition.”
In 2021, the father said that he and the child's mother were told about puberty blockers. At this time, the child was seeing a nurse practitioner in the gender clinic at Golisano, Amy Realbuto, who specializes in eating disorders. It was about this time that puberty blockers, which the manufacturer does not recommend for treatment of gender dysphoria given the negative side-effects, and does not recommend for more than 3-months' use, were recommended for the child.
The Division of Adolescent Medicine at Golisano specializes in both eating disorders and gender, and providers routinely see patients who are suffering from either gender dysphoria, eating disorders, or both. A receptionist at the Division of Adolescent Medicine told The Post Millennial that providers routinely and simultaneously treat minors who present with both of these conditions.
The father said that he was told that “they were completely safe and 100 percent reversible” by the nurse practitioner. The child had some 11 visits with Realbuto, some were virtual and some in person. The child's mother was present at these visits, while the father was present at those virtual visits. He said he tried to be present at the in-person ones via phone, but that poor reception was often a factor.
The FDA has warned that puberty blockers in minors can result in brain swelling, vision loss, and bone loss. Researchers have discovered that puberty blockers stunt growth, adversely affect cognitive function, leading to lowered IQs. Doctors who administer “gender affirming care,” such as Dr. Marci Bowers, president of the World Professional Associaiton for Transgender Health, have stated that children who begin puberty blockers and move on to cross-sex hormones will never achieve orgasm.
One of Bowers' patients, reality TV star Jazz Jennings, is one of these patients who underwent early treatment with puberty blockers, went onto cross-sex hormones and surgery, and has never experienced sexual arousal of any kind.
Many European nations have banned the practice of treating gender dysphoric youth with these kinds of drugs or issued extreme caution. Sweden has banned the drugs for minors, while France has said that extreme caution is needed, and the UK has shut down their gender clinic after a report found that “There is lack of consensus and open discussion about the nature of gender dysphoria and therefore about the appropriate clinical response.”
That report, commissioned by England's National Health Service, found that “The care of this group of children and young people is everyone’s business,” going on to say that “there needs to be agreement and guidance about the appropriate clinical assessment process that should take place at primary, secondary and tertiary level, underpinned by better data and evidence. ”
In New York, as in many other progressive states across the nation such as California and Massachusetts, “gender affirmation” is the model, meaning that there are to be no questions asked as to whether or not a child or teen presenting with gender dysphoria should undergo transition or not. Instead, the going wisdom in many US hospitals, from Golisano, to Boston Children's Hospital, National Children's Hospital, Lurie in Chicago, Seattle Children's, as well as children's hospitals in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Wisconsin, and other locations, push forward with affirmation to the exclusion of what is termed “watchful waiting,” which allows children to express themselves while not being led into, or leading providers, into medical solutions.
Golisano is an “affirming” hospital, and the father said that the hospital “went along” with what his prepubescent child said about pursuing treatment for gender dysphoria. the father remembers asking his child if “Mom would be upset” if the child reverted to the pre-transition name. The child said “yeah,” then recanted and said she didn't mean that.
Golisano attests that “children are first aware of their own gender at around age 2, and transgender children may insist that they are of the opposite gender and desire toys and clothing that are typically assigned to the opposite gender.” Other providers who specialize in treating children and teens who present with gender dysphoria state that when minors do not conform to traditional gender norms that is an indication that they may be transgender.
The issue between the child's father and his wife came to a head, and his wife filed for divorce after Christmas of 2021. It was at this point that the judge in the case determined that neither parent could discuss gender issues with their child, and a law guardian was appointed to the child.
“He suggested we don't have much time, and the child needs to be on blockers soon,” the father said of the guardian. This guardian met with the child only 3 or 4 times, and has made the assertion in court about the need to act quickly in giving the child puberty blocking drugs. These kinds of treatments are covered under health insurance plans in New York, per law, since 2021.
A law guardian in the state of New York meets privately with the child, and is meant to look out for the best interests of the child. It is standard, in a circumstance like this, for a law guardian to also meet privately with a child's medical provider to ascertain the best course forward for a child. In this case, both provider and law guardian appear to be on the side of medical affirmation, which leaves the father struggling to see just who among them is looking out for the best interests of his child, not just as that child stands today, but as that child grows up.
The Post Millennial spoke to a nurse at Golisano's Division of Adolescent Medicine, who said that the teens as young as 16 can go on cross-sex hormones, but younger children can start with puberty blockers. When asked about how treatment would proceed if a child presented with both eating disorders and gender dysphoria, the nurse said “we like to kind of address both angles at the same time, just because we know one's not going to get better without the other one being helped.”
“We'll talk about what they're hoping to do for their gender dysphoria, what we can help them with, whether it's binding, or something like that,” she said, meaning the practice of suppressing the appearance of breasts with the use of a binder. “Or just school support,” the nurse continued, “or helping family be more affirming.” She said that in addition to puberty blockers and hormones, they could do “period control, or anything like that.”
Puberty blockers, she said, “give you a little bit more time to figure things out.” When asked how long children are typically taking these drugs, she said “We don't want them on it for years on end, just because it can cause other issues. But we tend to continue it for a few years, depending on where they're at already.”
“There's a couple different options,” she said, as to the schedule of taking these drugs, which are administered via injection every one, three or six months. “Some people are on it for like a year or two years, and other people get like one injection and they're on it for a little bit and then they make a decision, like either they want to continue on or don't, and then we go from there.”
The Post Millennial asked how the medical team at the gender clinic would proceed if a mother is in favor of medical treatment for gender dysphoria, and the father isn't. “We like to work together,” she said.
“We'd really like dad to be there at appointments, so he can get information, so we can help him understand why this is important and why we want to do things like this. And we kind of work together and see what we can do now,” the nurse said.
But she also said that in the case of divorce, if one parent has full custody and the other doesn't, the one with full custody doesn't actually need the approval of the non-custodial parent for medical decisions. “If you were divorced, or something like that, if you had all the medical decision making power, we still like to loop dad in, but like also it's not totally necessary for him to consent to it.”
For the father, the best case scenario would be to avoid medical intervention for his healthy child, and to let the child grow up healthy, without medically unnecessary drugs or surgeries. The father does not wish to hinder the child's self-expression, but to protect the child from being set on a course of action that will stunt their growth, deprive them of the ability to reproduce, and would turn the child into a life-long medical patient
New York State passed a ban on “conversion therapy” in 2019, which effectively means that, should a child or teen present with gender dysphoria and claim to be the opposite sex, it is illegal to tell them that they may be okay without gender transition. It is illegal to tell a girl who says she is a boy that she is in fact a girl, and that no amount of medical intervention will change that. This law was specifically for mental health professionals.
A bill currently before the state Senate would make New York a “sanctuary state” for children seeking medical gender transition. That bill is sponsored by state Senator Brad Hoylman, who also sponsored the conversion therapy ban in 2019. When asked about the requirements for medical professionals who are not in mental health but are medical providers, Hoylman's office was not sure if or how the conversion therapy ban applied.
The father is hoping that the forces advocating for his child to undergo medical gender transition, after the child was already socially transitioned at school, will realize that letting a child grow up, without medical intervention to delay, alter, or disrupt that natural process, is in the child's best interests.