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 kids....no 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!
2 hours ago