CINCINNATI -- A 17-year-old Hamilton County boy who has spent more than a year fighting to be recognized by his family and the world as a boy finally has just that.
A ruling handed down Friday by Juvenile Court Judge Sylvia Sieve Hendon awards custody to the boy's grandparents, with whom he currently lives and who have supported his gender transition.
On the other hand were his parents, who lawyers say insisted he receive Christian therapy rather than be allowed to pursue hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or sex reassignment.
The judge ruled the boy's grandparents shall have the right to determine what medical care will be pursued at Cincinnati Children's hospital with the caveat that a psychologist unaffiliated with the hospital shall first evaluate the teen to ensure consistency between the child's gender presentation and feelings of nonconformity.
His parents have been granted visitation rights, and Hendon encourages them "to work toward reintegration of the child into the extended family."
Supporters of the trans community say acceptance is important.
"As they experience love and support in coordination with that, they become their best selves," said Dan Stultz of Lighthouse Youth & Family Services. " And they're able to contribute their strengths to the community.
The Living With Change Foundation expressed its support for the judge's ruling.
Living with Change is grateful for Judge Hendon’s decision to put the safety & medical care of the child first. 41% of transgender youth attempt suicide in their lifetime, making access to medically necessary care an incredibly important part of living a healthy & complete life. https://t.co/aEIKkwiTVl
— Living With Change (@LWC_Foundation) February 16, 2018
Hendon concluded her ruling with commentary on the legal system, encouraging lawmakers to set up a framework to evaluate minors' rights to pursue gender therapy.
"There is certainly a reasonable expectation that circumstances similar to the one at bar are likely to repeat themselves. The Legislature should consider a set of standards by which the Court is able to judge and act upon that minor's request based upon the child's maturity," Hendon wrote.
That type of legislation would give a voice and a pathway to kids in similar situations without embroiling their families in relationship-damaging litigation, Hendon wrote.