Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Which state punishes gender varient children, adults and made gay flirting illegal: Ohio

If you display gender variance as a child the state will, through its actions, sanction the use of emotional, verbal and up to physical abuse. Is this Iran? No, it is the US; it is OHIO. For some reason, if you are a gay, transgendered or transsexual child in Ohio who shows gender variance from traditional male expectations; it is not the community which attacks you but the very state organizations set up to protect you like the courts and the social services; in some cases making you defacto a “non-human” or mentally ill.

Judge Waite in Ohio ruled
two weeks ago in the custody case of Smith v. Smith. The mother, V.S. and the father, K.S. married and had two boys starting in 1994 before divorcing in 2001 when the oldest child was between 6-7. The mother, V.S., states the oldest child was already displaying gender variant behavior while in the 2007 case the father says he doesn’t remember any. The mother had custody of the two children and except for a few visits the father dropped out of the children’s lives. Meanwhile the older child continued in the desire to dress as a female and be called by a female name and the mother, after some research decided the child was a transsexual. Over time, the child used the name and was called Christine by the mother and others and in 2004, the mother prepared to move so that Christine could register in new school as a female. Nothing particularly shocking in Christine’s behaviour, which seemed to be a sincere desire, for at least part of the time, so be seen and treated as female. However, when the father found out that his SON was going to be registered in a school under the name Christine, he sued for custody of the children on the basis that the mother’s acceptance of her son as “Christine” was harming the child.

The one thing I will say about the mother is this: the internet is not the same as getting a specialist consult. The mother never took her son/Christine to a gender identity specialist. If she had, the case would have gone nowhere, but because she hadn’t, it was reopened. The problem was that Ohio has very little law on transsexuality or gender identity or custody (and none of it good), so the judge, on the strange presumption that unlike every other child on earth, a transsexual child cannot know their own gender until after puberty (that whole gender/sexuality mix-up thing), the judge asked for experts to examine the child and put an interim order for the mother NOT to allow the child to be feminine. The father put the mother under survelliance until he caught them going to a swim party in a girl’s swimsuit and introduced as Christine. The father, by the evidence shown, is a class one jerk whose only concern seems not for the welfare or development of the children (where was he all those years?) but rather that his BOY not act “girly”; which apparently is worth any cost to him (time with the way; money to stop his child wanting to be called Christine; that’s why they made credit cards!).

The experts opinions came back conflicting (the father’s was
challenged because some of his “evidence” were bible verses and religious overtones) so the judge ordered a “neutral” court expert. Then, in his ruling the Judge went against the recommendation of his expert (who had said that expression of Christine was normal and should be allowed to develop), and decided, because the mother could not be trusted to completely squash all feminine aspects of her child, to give full and sole custody to the father (on the basis that child not reaching puberty must be “taught” appropriate gender expression). So the 11 and now 12 year old child is placed in the hands of a man whose sole purpose for the last three years has been to get his hands on him in order to make sure he acts in a way the father has decided his BOY should act. So whether he is gay, transvestite, transgender, transsexual – he is complete and totally screwed – since the implication that the child can and should be forcibly stopped goes with this change of custody. This Judge’s decision, with its precident in decisions of custody of children and their mental health either states or implies that gender variant behavior should not be allowed until after puberty.

This demonstrates that in seven years, nothing much has changed in Ohio from 2000 with the
case of Zachary Lipscomb. Back in 2000, with a united family, both parents agreed it would be best to sent their child to school under her preferred name, Aurora, and contacted the school to help them do so. The school contacted social services; and social services, hearing that two parents were trying to enroll their BOY child as Aurora determined that was not “proper care” and removed custody of the child to the state (where Aurora was sent to gender “reidentification” training). In this case, two parents, who saw their child from the age of two going around telling everyone she was a girl and tried to help her, lost their child to a state that saw their treatment as evidence of unfit parenting (after several appeals, the Liscombs lost custody permanently, and later divorced).

By now, many Ohio residents may be saying, that’s not fair, we aren’t as bigoted as all that. Well, maybe that’s true, maybe many other states use the judicial system and social services to put non-gender conforming children deliberately in emotionally, verbally and likely physically abuse situations. Situations in which, knowing the statistics of suicides and suicide attempts of gay or perceived gay or gender variant behavior children in schools is sort of the state saying; “Hey, we’ll force you to ACT like “boys should” now even though we know that you have about a 50% chance of killing or becoming homeless by 18. But remember, this is for your own good!”

Of course, it might be hard to argue that for Ohio when last
week, a off duty firefighter in a wig and bikini, who says he was going to a gay bar for a female imitator contest was picked up by the police because of 911 calls (“There is a non-gender conforming male, please come immediately!”); he was drunk. Was the main charge about his driving drunk? It was not. The main charge was being dressed as a female in a public park. The Ohio judge has ordered him BANNED from all parks in the two nearest townships AND a mandatory mental evaluation (Drag Queens, Drag Kings, anyone a little effeminate or butch might really want to take note of this state, and AVOID it!) because I guess putting on a wig and trying to look like Madonna is just “plumb crazy.”

Clark County Ohio is also the
only place in the US where marriage applicant must swear they are not a transsexual in order to get a marriage license. Why? Because the previous Clark County Probate Judge, David Mattas, thought it should be written in after reading a ruling from 20 years ago by Stark County Judge which denied a transsexual the right to marry a non-transsexual since he decided chromosomes not genitalia, legally changed birth certificates or any thing else was the deciding faction (he had obviously never heard of intersex conditions; 47 states currently allow transsexuals to change their birth certificates, Ohio does not). Ironically, in Stark county where the decision was made, you do not have to swear you are not a transsexual in order to marry, but the Judge in Clark county thought it such a great idea, he decided you did in his county. If the people of Ohio think that this makes their legal system sound like a bunch of old transphobic and homophobic men who know more about the book of Leviticus than 20th or 21st century medicine, I would say you are absolutely right! But then, maybe you should of thought about that before introducing Ohio house bill 515 last year to try and prohibit LGBT people from adopting or even fostering children. By the way Ohio, out of 50 states was ranked 50th in the HRC state ranking last year (and as little as 4-5 years ago it was ILLEGAL in Ohio to even flirt with someone of the same sex – nope, not illegal to have gay sex, illegal to FLIRT).

As one law blogger
noted, even when Judges try to do the right thing (in Ohio) the ignorance, particularly regarding non-traditional gender behavior is so severe that no one seems to be providing the court or social worker system with information; nor do they seem to really want it (still got the bible to rely on I guess).

Anyway, there is not a happy ending for Christine, as there wasn’t for Aurora. I think the message is, if you are male, gay, a child and don’t fit gender norms or if you are gender variant in ANY way (including going to a public park on your way to a female imitator contest), then get the hell out of Ohio!


Sober @ Sundown said...

Hi Beth,

I have always and will forever avoid Ohio.

Love the shoes!

Hope you are feeling better.

Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

That's chilling. I feel for those children.
I thought the judiciary was supposed to be independent of the influence of politics.
That's another one of those civics class myths that was drilled into us as children.

kathz said...

A well-researched post. I definitely have no plans to go to Ohio.

in haste - rather busy - it's the school holidays here which means getting haircuts, new clothes for kids, etc. My son mostly wants clothes that proclaim socialism/communism at the moment - I've a feeling that wouldn't go down too well in Ohio either.

best wishes to you and Linda

Wendryn said...

Is this very different in other states? Other than certain places in CA and NY, I'm not sure that any other state would have much of a different take on it. As far as the courts can tell, the child isn't old enough to make their own decisions so it's just as likely that the parents are forcing it. Let me make it clear that this is quite awful and damaging - I'm not supporting it at all - but I doubt many other US states would do differently.

Kurisutsure said...

I cried reading that post. My prayer's are with that girl. I'm outraged, I cannot believe that a court would do that! That father is probably going to seriously abuse that poor girl, and the courts will pay no mind. I wish there were something
I could do. The only reason I'd go to Ohio after reading that would be to do something to change the situation.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Sober: thanks, good fashion always feels good - I hope! Yes, boo on Ohio!

Daniel: Yes, I was rather shocked by how bad the Judiciary in Ohio was (in another case a month ago, the employment judiciary decided that calling a transsexual a "he/she" in the workplace was degrogatory, but not actually discrimination grounds - Also remember that it is only recently that Cinncinati finally overturned its law to ensure no protect laws for LGBT people (which they did because many conventions including the librarian convention would go there (librarian convention was in Seattle this year)).

Kathz: Clothes that proclaim socialism? - I think there are some mao jackets around and I think there are some tough burlap style clothes from the east still around - or does he want cool hip western made standard clothes but with socialist messages? (like Che on it?) Or he could buy Canadian, we are sorta socialist (of course, that is why all our clothes also cost 4 times as much)

Wendryn: I don't know, actually I just started with the story about Christine but then I remember I had done this research about 6 months ago to find out WHY? Why was Ohio rated the worst (which is when I found out that it was against the law to flirt with someone of the same sex until 2002 in Ohio, which the police used to pick up gays in the park - the law was repealed and for the next four week the police targetted gays and picked them up for anything from loitering to indecency - a clear message of, they can make ya legal but we still are going to get ya). For the rest, I remembered this early case of parents having their child suddenly taken away and suprise - it was in Ohio as well, then there was the weird Ohio county where all people getting married have to verbally swear that they are transsexuals (WTF?) - I think virgina and Alabama might be this bad (Alabama last week, guess what the bail is for killing a gay man in his own home: $50,000). I can't say how bad other states are, but Ohio does seem to have a high "wacky response" factor.

Kurisutsure: Yes, the case of Christine really bothered me but I was too sick to blog it for a few days - I grew up religious and was closeted very strongly because I feared what would happen (which pretty much did happen) - so here is this child, out of the closet, feeling totally secure and suddenly, BAM, going to the guy who really WANTS to try and eraticate what we see is part of who that child is: Christine - so no, not really thinking that child is going to grow up happy or unharmed.

GayProf said...

I usually consider myself pretty up on queer news, but you always find the stories that receive almost no attention. I appreciate that.

It surprises me that Ohio ranked worse than, oh, I don't know, Texas. Still, this is very grim.

Denise said...

All this is frightening to hear about. I know a few transwomen in Ohio, who have found their local communities accepting, but have found administrative and health care personnel less than helpful. And to think that the "family" courts would put a child into the hands of someone whose sole motive seems to be to destroy her sense of self and self-worth... I want to cut that judge into small pieces.

Annie said...

We really need to raise awareness in this country about transsexualism. I was kind of glad to see Stanton last night say that he's devoting his energy to education and activism.

In the meantime, I'm praying that poor little girl will have the strength to hang in there.

Thanks for the article.

nathan said...

I used to LIVE in ohio and as a Tman I was happy as hell to leave the state and unless i have to drive thur im hoping not to stop again.

Some of your blog is correct some isnt. The mother did take the child to doctors several of them as a matter of fact before court ever started. The mother 's drs were in support of allowing the child to express and gave the child a GID diagnosis

trannEinJerZ said...

This is not news - anyone who's ever seen the movie "Heathers" (or lived in Ohio) has known this since 1989:

J.D. reaches in both his coat pockets and triumphantly raises
out two bottles of Perrier water.

Perrier water!

Oh come on. Lots of people drink
Perrier. It's come a long way.

This is Ohio. If you don't have a
brewsky in your hand you might as
well be wearing a dress.

TC said...

Thank you for writing this. I'm trans and from Ohio. My parents told me never go back there and I'm glad since I'm never going back to that hateful place anyway as long as I live.

Elizabeth McClung said...

gayprof - Don't worry, Texas is still number 1 in hate crime murders of gay men annually (though alabama is catching up) - Ohio just has this sort of institutionalized system.

Denise - yes, the judges seems to be a sort of unusual bunch (to put it kindly - I would have them up for crimes against humanity myself)

Anne: I will have to admit I was going, "Stanton?" until I recalled the wonderful example of acceptance Florida is showing - Stanton hasn't even transitioned, fired for mentioning it. There's acceptance.

Nathan - thanks for the tman perspective (which I couldn't find in news reports on how they are treated). I simply went by court reports which stated she never went to a specialist which is why two were appointed - perhaps she went to some GP's or other doctors and thought that was okay - the lack of specialist verdict was what the judge used to reopen the custody - even more tragic if she did go to doctors and they either did not refer her to the "right" specialist or the court ignored that in reopening the case

trannieinjerz - ah, I missed that cultural cue - thanks for that, odd that Ohio is

TC: Horaay for escaping! I wish I could be upbeat and say, "I'm sure change is coming" but...I'm not.

saintjoseph said...

Thank you for writing this. I'm trans and from Ohio. My parents told me never go back there and I'm glad since I'm never going back to that hateful place anyway as long as I live.

Ohio Drug Treatment

saintjoseph said...

gayprof - Don't worry, Texas is still number 1 in hate crime murders of gay men annually (though alabama is catching up) - Ohio just has this sort of institutionalized system.
Ohio Drug Treatment