Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

James Younger, a seven-year-old boy, has become a court mandated girl.

In none other than Dallas, Texas, 11 jurors awarded sole custody of James Younger and his twin, Jude, to their mother, who insists against all evidence to the contrary, that James is really a girl. Though the jury’s decision was then walked back by the presiding judge to allow both parents a say in medical decision-making, it was still a stunning revelation that a jury could come to a near-unanimous decision that it is in a child’s best interests to be raised as if he were the opposite sex. The case also uncovers one of the more chilling aspects of “gender”: If someone can choose to be something other than their sex, then what’s to stop someone else from choosing for you? In a video posted online, a three-year-old James Younger is asked by his father, “Who told you you’re a girl?” to which James answers, “Mommy.” 

“Mommy” is pediatrician Anne Georgulas, who with her ex-husband, Jeffrey Younger, conceived James and his twin through IVF with a donor egg. Georgulas began insisting that her son was a transgender girl four years ago, after James made the mistake of choosing the girl toy for his Happy Meal at McDonald’s.

In 2018 family court proceedings, Georgulas’s attorney explained James’s transgender identity thusly: “This case is about a little 6-year-old girl. It’s a little girl who knows she is a girl. It’s a girl who wears cute, frilly, girly clothes. She plays with super girly bears and dolls and toys. . . . All of her artwork from school is very girly.” This evidence might sound plausible to a child who hasn’t yet reached the stage of development called sex constancy, but most children over five understand that someone’s appearance doesn’t change their essence, and can assure you that a Ken doll holding Barbie’s purse is just a boy with a purse. Under the influence of gender identity ideology, it seems that most of the adults in the room have reverted back to the stage before sex constancy, taking a child’s spontaneous clothing and toy choices more seriously than sex gametes, chromosomes, and genitalia combined.

James, of course, didn’t come by his “cute, girly, frilly” wardrobe all by himself. His mother purchased it for him after a counselor associated with the Dallas-based GENECIS children’s gender clinic advised a “social transition” for James, a phrase chosen by the gender intelligentsia to mean adult-enabled, full-time cross-dressing for children. Social transition is a staple of the “gender affirmative” approach to treating children who express interests outside of the norm for their sex. The GENECIS website suggests consulting the expertise of Dr. Diane Ehrensaft, who has said, “[t]he basic therapeutic tenet of the gender affirmative model is quite simple: When it comes to knowing a child’s gender, it is not for us to tell, but for the children to say.”

But what child has the power to “speak” their identity through clothing they can’t purchase themselves? And what of the medical interventions for which they aren’t old enough to offer consent? Experts in the field of childhood gender dysphoria testified on behalf of the father in the Dallas custody trial, cautioning that “gender affirmation” may make persistence in transgender-identification more likely, which, in turn, makes medical interventions like puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and surgery more likely. James Younger is bringing the foundational principles of the child gender identity epidemic into sharper focus, and it looks a lot like transition is less an exercise in self-revelation than an externally-imposed performance.

Picture the Gender Unicorn. The point of that meme isn’t just to facilitate self-discovery through your feelings, it’s also meant to do something else. By relegating bodily sex to a choice made by someone else (i.e. an obstetrician “assigned” your sex at birth), the unicorn steals away that last cold, hard fact about us that cannot be changed by a storm of emotions, or by our rejection of social conventions, or by anyone else’s design. Bodily sex is like an anchor holding us fast in the stormy sea of our choices and feelings—and those of others. The Gender Unicorn leaves a child defenseless, dependent on adults to reconstruct his identity on their terms.

So where do we lay the blame for this state of affairs? No one said it better than retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” Even if you chafe at the hubris of that statement, you probably also feel entirely familiar with this sort of thinking. This is the sentiment that undergirds the entire American liberal project. This is Mill’s vision of liberty, elevating the individual above almost any limitation from both state and society.

Stir a technological mindset into this classically liberal stew, and the transgender moment becomes inevitable. Oliver O’Donovan said decades ago that a technological culture has the disposition to think of “everything it does as a form of instrumental making,” and will see everything—even the human being himself—as a product of the human will. James Younger, from IVF conception to “gender” transition, has never not been seen as a product of the will.

The body is perhaps the last and most stubborn obstacle to the brand of freedom conveyed by Kennedy's sweet mystery of life passage, and in our pointless struggle to alter the unalterable, we’ve fomented both a child health crisis and a direct threat to parental rights. Public fury has thankfully sprung up in Texas and across the country, but we shouldn’t forget that this ideology won the day in the Younger custody case for a reason.

As Pope Francis put it: “thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation.” This ideology didn't come out of nowhere and it didn't move with unprecedented speed. We planted this tree long ago, we watered it, and now we eat the bitter fruit it bears.

NOTE: This article has been updated to reflect an Oct. 24 ruling that gives both parents a say in James's future medical decision-making. 

Emily Zinos is the Project Coordinator for Ask Me First MN and a member of the Hands Across the Aisle Coalition.

Photo by Martin Alon via Creative Commons

Become a fan of First Things on Facebooksubscribe to First Things via RSS, and follow First Things on Twitter. 

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter Web Exclusive Articles

Related Articles