One who isn’t, one who is.
There are two stories which have broken in the UK over the issue of gender identity in youth, and both are in their own way heartbreaking and extremely emotive.
The first case involved a 7-year-old little boy who was brought up as a girl by his mother, and whom the Family Court in England awarded custody to his father. The mother maintained that the boy identified as a girl, and to this end dressed him as a girl, was bullied at school for dressing as a girl, was registered as a girl with his GP, and on official forms.
The boy’s father, who is separated from his mother, however doubted the mother’s assertion that the boy identified as transgender. These doubts were shared by some school staff. The father filed for custody, and won his case.
Mister Justice Hayden, presiding judge, stated “This is not a case about gender dysphoria, rather it is about a mother who has developed a belief structure which she has imposed upon her child.
“I am bound to say that had the concerns [of school staff] been given the weight that they plainly should have, it is difficult to resist the conclusion the boy could have been spared a great deal of emotional harm.”
Mr Hayden added, “Transgender equality has received a great deal of attention in recent times. I believe that in this case the profile and sensitivity of the matters raised by the mother blinded a number of professionals from applying their training, skill, and, it has to be said, common sense.
“They failed properly to investigate the mother’s assertions, in part I suspect, because they did not wish to appear to be challenging an emerging orthodoxy in such a high-profile issue.”
This ruling has thrown further division between cisgender and transgender people, with the some transphobes seeing it as a victory, whilst I have seen some trans people lambasting Justice Hayden as a transphobe himself. In fact, Mr Justice Hayden is no stranger to transgender issues, having ruled in many such cases, and in most he has come down on the side of the transgender person. Before this case he actually wrote “My experience in the Family Division leaves me with little doubt that some children, as young as 4, 5, 6 years of age may identify strongly with their opposite gender. Such children can experience rejection and abuse arising from ignorance both on a personal and institutional level.” These are hardly the words of a transphobe. Far from it, I would consider those to be the words of a strong and powerful ally of transgender children.
It seems therefore that in this case we have a mother who, for reasons best known to herself, decided her son was transgender and imposed a female gender upon him. That has potentially done untold damage to the child. We in the LGBT+ camp must never condemn Mr Justice Hayden for his ruling. He has all the facts of the case; we do not. Indeed, I think he should be applauded for his thoughtful handling of a highly emotional case.
Needless to say however, the gutter press was quick to link the above case to that of a 14-year-old trans boy – and whose devoutly Christian parents are now taking their local authority to court.
In this case a 14-year-old assigned female at birth has identified as male, and has laid out his plans to transition as soon as he is old enough, and has expressed his wish to be known by a male forename in school. He has received the support of his local authority’s Social Work department, after he underwent psychiatric evaluation. The parents have been warned that if their child’s wishes are not implemented, then he may present a high suicide risk, and if guidance of social workers is not acted upon, then their child may be taken into care.
The parents have responded by taking their local authority to court. They are being defended by The Christian Legal Centre, who are also funding the case. Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre stated “The transgender cultural movement is creating a new ‘conflict of rights’ within the family. This is the emperor’s new clothes. Authorities are forcing an agenda that is not true, and harmful to children. This case demonstrates shocking disregard for parental authority: no one is listening to what the parents want or have to say. They know the child the best, and have the child’s interests at heart.”
So, there you have it readers; according to the Christian Legal Centre, this trans boy and all we who are transgender / genderfluid are not behaving the way we simply are, but are following a ‘culture’ which is “not true”. I wonder if it would be possible to have Andrea Williams arrested for hate speech? No – we don’t want the Christian Taliban screaming persecution, or making a martyr of her.
The mother of the trans boy has stated “The rights of parents in the UK are being eroded, especially those who have traditional Christian values. It is leaving parents to feel fearful, vulnerable and intimidated.”
I would first of all like to know what ‘traditional Christian values’ preclude being transgender? I don’t know if the parents, Andrea Williams, or anyone else in the Christian Legal Centre have noticed, but nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus, at any point, make any mention of any sort of gender – not once. I can only assume therefore that the parents and their representatives are relying upon the Old Testament; “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5, KJV). Well, that’s equally all right, because a trans boy is just that – a boy. So if God actually existed, then he must have made the boy in question transgender, and intended him to dress and behave as male. Although an atheist myself, I know some lovely transgender and genderfluid people who fully believe that their God made them as intended.
I would also point out that women were wearing ‘harem’ trousers, and both male and female Greek horse riders were wearing trousers, while Moses was writing Deuteronomy – dressed in his robes. Oh, and high heels were originally invented for men to hold stirrups while horse riding (Oh, go on boys, you know you want some).
Then there is the hypocrisy of parents of this ilk, who want their children to grow up with ‘Christian values’ on one hand, yet claim they are too young to know their own gender on the other. Ermm, I would venture that anyone who is old enough to start to fully grasp Christian theology – as a 14-year-old would be – is more than old enough to understand their own body and mind.
Social workers have also stated the boy is in a “heterosexual” relationship with a 13-year-old girl, according to the newspapers. Well, of course he bloody well is, because if their editors and their readership were to actually study the issue, they would know that gender and sexuality are not one and the same thing. Anyone can be straight, gay, bi, pan (like me), or even asexual, completely regardless of being cis, trans, or like me, genderfluid / whateva (I’m not choosy, dears).
Perhaps the saddest fact of this case is that there are no winners either way.
I have no doubt that the Christian Legal Centre and the boy’s parents will be made fully aware of matters surrounding gender dysphoria in court, and they are on a hiding to lose this case. In which case a teenage boy will be removed from his parents, who are so bloody indoctrinated by Bronze Age goatherders mythology about an invisible sky pixie, that they are willing to put their beliefs before the welfare of their child.
But in the unlikely event that the parents should win their case, and keep custody of their child, what then? Will he thank them for it? When he is forced against his will to dress and act like a girl, excluding the very real danger of suicide, what happens once he turns 16? He’ll be off like a shot, and may well cut off all contact with his parents, that’s what.
Either way, I see nothing but heartache coming from this case, all for the short-sightedness of parents, and the transphobic hatred of a bunch of religious zealots who are backing them.
Transphobic red top rags and their equally transphobic readership, using incorrect pronouns – as to be expected, have been all over both stories, with many trying to claim that the case of the 7-year-old is a victory. In fact it is nothing of the sort, and if anything, both stories actually back up gender diversity. Not only are the parents of the 14-year-old giving their faith priority over their child, but the case of the 7-year-old actually highlights how some parents, far, far from what Andrea Williams and the Christian Legal Centre claim, do not always know their children best and do not always put their best interests at heart.
What both cases does highlight is just who is the real expert on anyone’s gender; none other than the individual concerned. Each and every one of us is first and foremost a unique individual, with our own gender, sexuality, peccadilloes, likes and dislikes. Therefore to try and use one case to back up another is not just a false dichotomy, it is downright dangerous. We are none of us clones, and each and every person’s gender (and sexuality) being unique to them, can never be used as an example for any other human being.
In the final instance, whatever anyone proclaims their gender to be, we need to take them fully at face value. And that pertains to cisgender people every bit as much as it does to the transgender and genderfluid. And, as Mr Justice Hayden asserts, that can indeed apply to children, even those as young as 4-years-old.
Readers please note that certain references to Christianity in this article are not intended as an attack upon the Christian faith in general, but are merely to highlight what I perceive in this particular case of the degree of religious fundmentalism of those involved. When anyone displays a strong degree of religious fundamentalism, whatever their faith, they need to be shown up for the danger they represent.