Texas judge grants joint custody to parents who disagree over whether their 7-year-old is transgender

A Texas couple who have made national news for disagreeing over their child's gender identity have now been granted joint custody, a judge said Thursday.

Anne Georgulas and Jeffrey Younger have been locked in a custody battle over their 7-year-old — who many news outlets have chosen not to name for the sake of privacy — since 2018.  

Georgulas, a pediatrician, contends that their child is a transgender girl. Younger, meanwhile, has remained steadfast that the 7-year-old, who doctors considered male at birth, is a boy. 

The legal dispute began when Georgulas filed a lawsuit last year asking that Younger be legally required to use the child's female name both in public and private. Younger, meanwhile, denied that request and accused his ex-wife of trying to medically transition their child. 

Georgulas's lawsuit has gained attention from numerous politicians — both in Texas and nationwide — who have accused her of forcing a female gender identity on her child. In a letter from the office of the state's attorney general, Ken Paxton, officials accused the mother of "possible child abuse," saying she wished to "chemically and surgically [alter] his biological sex based on her belief that he may identify as a girl."

But Georgulas has insisted that she wishes to use "affirmation" to aid in her child's transition, and her lawsuit does not mention any surgery or chemical treatments. 

However, that dispute was enough to revert the couple joint custody, a change that came just days after Georgulas had been given sole conservatorship of the 7-year-old. The judge also placed a "permanent injunction" on both parents, which prevents them from speaking about the case in the media. 

Until that ruling, Younger had been extremely vocal about his side of the story, with a Facebook group and blog devoted to "saving" his "son." He's also drawn the attention of many conservative media outlets and politicians, who have publically voiced their support. 

"A 7-year-old child doesn't have the maturity to make profound decisions like this," Texas Senator Ted Cruz tweeted last week. "The state of Texas should protect this child's right to choose — as an informed, mature person — and not be used as a pawn in a left-wing political agenda."

"We don’t let kids drink alcohol until 21. People want to move [the] smoking age to 21. But we will allow a 7 year old to have his life and body altered like this? This is child abuse and the state should side with the father who is trying to protect the child," Kentucky Senator Rand Paul said in a tweet that was retweeted by Donald Trump Jr.

Court rulings have suggested that Younger may have wanted this sort of public attention. A judge in the case said that while the father may have originally had "valid concerns," it's also clear he "finds comfort in public controversy and attention surrounded by the use of unfounded facts."

Younger had previously published a lengthy description of the case to his website, detailing the conflict over the couple's child. In it, the father asserted that his child "consistently and persistently chooses traditional masculine clothing," despite the fact that the 7-year-old's mother insisted on a process of "socially transitioning" that included buying feminine clothing and using the women's bathroom at school. 

"When [he] is with his Father, he refuses girl’s clothes, says he is a boy to family and to friends, refuses to play with girls, and engages in typically male play," Younger wrote.

Georgulas has maintained silence in the media, however her attorneys, Jessica Janicek and Laura Hayes, told BuzzFeed News last week that the mother has been harmed by Younger's "untrue" claims. 

“A completely distorted and untrue version of events in this case has been circling the media," the layers said in a statement. "My client is being viciously attacked and threatened by complete strangers based on false and untrue statements. That is unacceptable."

Last week's ruling means that both parents must agree on issues such as medication, surgeries and psychological counseling. The couple was also assigned a parenting coordinator. 

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