Friday, February 21, 2020

Trans Students' Rights in the Courts

Protect Transgender Students
A group of parents, identified only as John and Jane Does, is suing the Madison, Wisconsin Metropolitan School District. The plaintiffs allege that the school district violates parental rights by refusing to disclose whether or not their children are displaying any gender diverse behavior.

They claim that parents have a “constitutionally protected” right to be fully informed. Of course there is an issue over Religious Freedom™. According to the complaint:
The District’s Policy of hiding from parents their child’s struggles with gender dysphoria also directly interferes with these Plaintiffs’ right to teach and guide their children through this issue in accordance with their religious beliefs.
Imagine if we applied religious beliefs to any other medical condition. Gender dysphoria is fair game. What? Parents have the right to “teach” their kid not to be gender incongruent because the deity does not approve. Suppose that same god disapproved of diabetes? “Out Satan!”

The parents (who, by the way, might not have standing) are represented by Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty run by Richard Esenberg. 2018 revenues were about $2 million. Joining WILL is Roger G. Brooks a retired litigator who has sometimes filed complaints on behalf of Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ hate group. Brooks has a JD from U.Va and an MDiv from Pat Robertson's Regent University.

Attached to the complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court is an “Expert Affidavit” from Dr. Stephen B. Levine.

Dr. Levine, a psychiatrist, has become a bit of a gadfly in anti-transgender circles. The problem is that he is not really an expert. Levine has written a few commentaries (opinion pieces) in academic journals and an account of one middle-aged patient. However, he doesn't seem to have conducted any research into gender dysphoria.

In one of Levine's commentaries, Informed Consent for Transgendered Patients, I found two deliberate errors (in addition to “transgendered” rather than transgender):
While this question is starkly evident among cross-gender identified children contemplating puberty suppression and social gender transition and young adolescents with rapid-onset gender dysphoria,…
Rapid onset gender dysphoria is not an established medical fact. It is a thoroughly discredited theory promoted by just one researcher (Lisa Littman) which resulted in the publisher issuing both an apology and a significant correction.
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health's Standards of Care recommend an informed consent process, which is at odds with its recommendation of providing hormones on demand.
WPATH does not recommend providing hormones on demand.

In 2019 Levine testified on behalf of the father in the Younger controversy in Texas where he was qualified as an expert.

There is no guarantee of privacy in the Constitution. It is really an ethical question. I am obviously biased. My strong belief is that the only person who should make such disclosure is the child and that he or she should do so only when he or she chooses to do so.

School personnel are not responsible for diagnosing gender dysphoria. Nor are they qualified to do so. A child could be seriously harmed emotionally if disapproving parents learn from a third party of their child's gender nonconforming behavior. Parents do not get to approve or disapprove of any other medical condition.

In this case they would be getting information about something that they disapprove of. That is exacerbated by the appearance that it is information that the child was deliberately trying to hide. It is a toxic cocktail of dysfunction.

I am having a difficult time perceiving of a situation where a minor socially transitions without the knowledge of their parents. When that does occur then the minor probably fears rejection. What happens if that rejection becomes a reality?

Gender diverse kids have more than enough to worry about. The stresses are unimaginable. Adding to that stress is probably a very bad idea. According to the complaint:
If Plaintiffs’ children ever begin to experience gender dysphoria, Plaintiffs would not immediately “affirm” their children’s beliefs about their gender identity and allow them to transition to a different gender role, but would instead pursue a treatment approach to help them identify and address the underlying causes of the dysphoria and learn to embrace their biological sex.
That is troubling. It also seems to concede that none of these parents have gender diverse children. I suspect that this is a group of parents brought together by religious observance and coordinated by a Christian minister.

The only reasonably responsible voice who is opposed to pre-adolescent transitioning is Ken Zucker. The weight of opinion is clearly on the other side and supported by the gender-affirming care model recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

I would hate to think that a group of parents is essentially seeking a right to abuse their kids because of a passage in Genesis or opinions that emanate from the Vatican. This is anti-trans hysteria brought about by a fierce desire to have only cisgender kids and fueled by religious beliefs supporting a parent's “right” to choose the sexuality of their children.

Ultimately, that is the right that parents are seeking in this lawsuit. I can only hope that an intelligent jurist will put the welfare of children ahead of unseemly quest for parental control of something that they really have no control over.

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