In recent weeks, mostly Catholic theological circles have been engaged in heated debate over an essay defending an 1858 kidnapping in which the Vatican took the child of Italian Jewish parents after the discovery that he had been secretly baptized.
On one side, the defenders of Pope Pius IX’s decision, like the essay’s author, argue, “It is a grievous thing to sever familial bonds. But the honor we give to mother and father will be imperfect if we do not render a higher honor to God above.”
Counter to this, others view the incident as “an outrageous abuse of state power,” the defense of which “shocks the modern conscience.” From a perspective that views the family as the fundamental unit of society and ordered liberty as a vital precondition of human flourishing, it’s difficult to disagree.
Now, 150 years later and an ocean away, we have been given a secularist parallel. In this case, the state authority is not the Bishop of Rome, but a judge from Ohio, and the ideology in question is not Catholicism, but transgenderism.
On Friday, an Ohio judge stripped parents of the custody of their 17-year-old daughter because they did not support the child’s decision to undergo transgender hormone therapy and did not call her by the new name she had chosen for herself. The parents argued that they should have the right to make medical decisions for their minor child and stop the procedure.
While the parents’ attorney argued that the child is not “even close to being able to make such a life-altering decision at this time” in her life, according to CBS 6, the judge in the case ruled in favor of the state and even used the opportunity to call for legislation to address questions like these, citing “the increasing worldwide interest in transgender care.”
That decision now lies with the grandparents, who have also been given the ability to legally change the teen’s name.
As the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson outlines in detail, there is actually a four-part process for parents to follow when their child self-identifies as something other than his or her biological sex, according to transgender activists. This includes a new wardrobe, puberty blockers, and hormone treatments at first, concluding with sex reassignment surgery at age 18.
Naturally, all of this requires that parents must accept the proposition that someone can become something other than their biological sex just by feelings alone.
And in ruling that the parents should be stripped of custody in this case, what the judge has effectively said is that the demands of the transgender activist cadre are more important in the eyes of the state than the fundamental rights parents have to make life-altering decisions for their minor children.
The outcome in this case may come as a shock to see just how far the transgenderism movement has progressed. But we should not be shocked to see similar cases in the months and years to come.
It’s true that the girl in question is 17 years old already, right on the cusp of the age of election anyway. This will undoubtedly be used to quell the protests of social conservatives and other parental rights advocates. But anyone familiar with how the one-way ratchet wrench of court-fabricated law works knows better.
After all, if such a situation as the one in Ohio is enough to persuade the government to completely revoke parental rights in favor of the state’s views on gender ideology, where exactly are the barriers that would prevent another court somewhere else from doing the same for a pre-teen with gender dysphoria or even a confused seven-year-old?
Proponents of same-sex marriage assured their political opponents time and time again that opening up government-issued marriage licenses to gay couples wouldn’t affect anyone besides the people named on said licenses. In contrast, recent years have seen a parade of traditional believers whose livelihoods have been put in danger by state governments and courts that have deemed any conscientious objection to gay marriage an unforgivable violation of the 2015 Supreme Court ruling.
Conservatives have seen similar noses under similar tents before; in turn, they made similar predictions, which came true at astonishing speeds. To expect a different trajectory or speed from courts and blue-state politicians on the issue of transgendered children would be a fool’s game.
Forcibly severing the fundamental bond between parent and child is something that should never be taken lightly, whether in 1858 or 2018. The irony is that while many on the Left undoubtedly condemn the church’s actions in the 1858 case, they will have absolutely no qualms whatsoever when the courts do the same thing in 2018.