Today I’d like to talk about something I’m actually hesitant to talk about. It’s not that the Intramuralist doesn’t have an opinion nor that I believe we cannot discuss respectfully. Rather, it’s that my vantage point is so far away. Time and time again, we witness those around us (maybe even us) become firmly entrenched in staunch, passionate opinions, failing, no less, to realize that our vantage point is so far away, that we are actually incapable of having a fully accurate perspective. My sense is many of our conversations would be better — and more solution-oriented — if we were willing to admit that our opinion has been formed from very far away.
Hence, noting our very removed perspective in the following incident that made some headlines this week, there are two concluding questions that seem wise for us to ask. Let’s see if we can do this well…
Meet James Younger. He is a 7 year old twin brother, whose parents are involved in a significant, contentious custody battle. The primary reason for the contention is that his mother wishes to raise him instead as a girl.
Anne Georgulas and Jeffrey Younger were married for 4 years before having their marriage annulled in 2016. They have been fighting in a Dallas family court for more than 2 years over the conservatorship of James.
Georgulas is a pediatrician in private practice. She believes James has gender dysphoria and thus should be raised now as a transgender girl. Georgulas calls her son, “Luna.” In a released video recording of James at 3, James states that he is a girl because his mother told him so and has him wear dresses and finger nail polish.
Younger is a mathematician. He believes his ex-wife has “manipulated” James into a “false gender self-identity” and thus opposes the child’s gender transition.
On Tuesday of last week, a jury ruled 11 to 1 that Georgulas has the sole right to make all medical and psychological decisions for James and his brother, Jude. On Thursday, however, after significant state and national outrage, a judge reinstated “Joint Managing Conservatorship,” meaning both Georgulas and Younger must be involved in decisions about their kids’ medical and psychological care.
First and foremost, I find my heart grieving for young James. Remember James is 7 years old. 7 year olds have just mastered learning to ride their bike. Typically in second grade, they are beginning to understand how numbers fit together; they’re more solidified on left and right and how to read a clock; and they often really look forward to recess and lunch. They are not adults, and according to the medically adopted stages of child development, they are just now beginning to demonstrate logical, concrete reasoning. Logical reasoning is not indicative of 7 nor especially not 3 year olds.
I often think of how confusing even our teenagers are, trying to find their identity… trying to find how they fit… trying to find a way to navigate through life in a healthy way, with massive hormonal changes, in a culture that’s way too full of social media, comparison, and too-often-encouraged self-absorption. As written in Psychology Today, “One of the important things to remember is that what a teen does and is exposed to during this critical time in life, has a large influence on the teen’s future, because experience and current needs shape the pruning and sprouting process in the brain.” Hence, with so many unhealthy influences coercing our kids, how can they not be confused? And that’s teenagers.
Thus remembering we are so far removed from the Younger situation — and that we are incapable of having a fully accurate perspective — I find myself wrestling with two questions…
First, if a parent wants a child to be a different gender — I ask sincerely — is that abuse?
And second, what’s the role of the state? In a situation like this, is it appropriate for the government to intervene and terminate the authority of either parent?
Who, friends, has the most authority for our kids?
(God help us. We need it. Did I mention this is confusing?)