A judge in Texas on Thursday upheld two parents’ joint custody of their 7-year-old twins, putting to bed a case that became a national lightning rod in the storm over transgender ideology.
Dallas County Family District Judge Kim Cooks said parents Anne Georgulas and Jeffrey Younger would continue to share custody and make joint decisions for twin boys James and Jude Younger. Georgulas and Younger were embroiled in a legal dispute over the care of James since the annulment of their marriage in 2015.
Georgulas, a pediatrician, claims the 7-year-old has expressed a persistent desire to be a girl since he was 3. Under her care, a transgender-affirming therapist diagnosed James with gender dysphoria. His classmates reportedly know him as a girl named Luna, and he uses the girls’ restroom at school. The therapist has referred James to the gender transition department at Children’s Medical Center Dallas for evaluation.
Younger claims Georgulas has manipulated James into identifying as a girl and that James embraces being a boy when he is with his father, insisting on boys’ clothes, responding to the name James, and participating in boyish play. Younger fears Georgulas intends to push their son into puberty-blocking hormones and cross-sex hormone treatment without his consent. A paper published by three medical experts in the journal The New Atlantis in 2017 called those treatments “radical” and “experimental” interventions that can have serious psychological and medical consequences for children.
Under a typical arrangement in Texas, the parents have joint managing conservatorship, meaning they equally share in the children’s legal decisions, but the twins live predominantly with Georgulas.
A jury on Monday voted 11-1 to deny a petition by Younger for sole custody of the twins. Following public outcry over the ruling, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, tweeted on Wednesday that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services was investigating the case and the Texas attorney general’s office was looking into it, as well. On Thursday, the office of Attorney General Ken Paxton, also a Republican, released a letter to the acting commissioner of the state’s child welfare agency, saying the department has a duty to conduct a thorough investigation regardless of the pending custody dispute: “The children at the center of this dispute are in immediate and irrevocable danger.”
Cooks ruled on Thursday in response to petitions by Georgulas requesting the court modify their custody arrangement and require Younger to affirm James as Luna, both in private and public, claiming his refusal is psychologically harmful to James. In her ruling, Cooks said the court noted no abuse, neglect, or family violence in the case. She said both parents love their children and should continue to share responsibility for their care and welfare. Under the terms of the ruling, it seems like Georgulas will not be able to move forward with transgender hormone therapy without the consent of Younger, a decision many see as a victory for parental rights and the safety of children. It is unclear how the couple will move forward regarding James’ identity as Luna at school and while with his mom.
“I have spent time with James he does not have, and has never had, a smidgen of gender dysphoria,” said Walt Heyer, an author and speaker who previously lived as a transgender woman for eight years. Heyer, now in his 70s, was cross-dressed by his grandmother when he was a child, something he said planted a seed that eventually put him on a path toward sex-change surgery and living as a woman. “Being a girl was where I got the adulation, all the things I desired,” Heyer said. “I felt loved, cared for. People don’t realize how powerful that is, what an influence it has on young people.”
Heyer said cross-dressing a young child, like Georgulas has done with James, will eventually spur one or more psychological, emotional, social, or sexual insecurities and could lead to a life of regret.