Ohio parents are battling for custody of their biological daughter who claims she is transgender, identifying as a boy. The 17-year-old is currently living with her maternal grandparents and under temporary legal custody of Hamilton County Job and Family Services.
The teen claims she became suicidal over her parents' lack of support regarding her gender identity, including refusing to call her by her new chosen name. She was first hospitalized in 2016 and has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and gender dysphoria. The girl's medical team claims she's in "a possible life-or-death situation," reports CNN.
The grandparents believe "treatment" and hormone therapy might be medically necessary for the girl.
"We think the grandparents are the ones who have an open mind and will ... make this sort of decision best for the child," said attorney Paul Hunt, the teen's court-appointed guardian. "The parents have clearly indicated that they're not open to it."
Karen Brinkman, an attorney representing the parents, argued that due to the girl's clearly unstable mental state, "it does not appear that this child is even close to being able to make such a life-altering decision at this time."
"If the maternal grandparents were to be given custody, it would simply be a way for the child to circumvent the necessity of parents' consent," said Brinkman. "[The] Parents believe custody of the child should be restored to them, so they can make the medical decisions they believe are in their child's best interest until [the child] turns 18 years of age."
According to Brinkman, the parents do not believe such life-changing hormone therapy is in their child's best interest. They "have done their due diligence contacting medical professionals, collecting thousands of hours of research and relying on their observation of their own child ... that led them to the conclusion that this is not in their child's best interest," she said.
Despite the parents' claim to have medical concerns for their child, their open Christian faith is being used against them in the courtroom.
"Donald Clancy of the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office argued that the reason why the parents don't want their child to receive hormone replacement therapy is because it is also against their religious beliefs," reports CNN.
"Father testified that any kind of transition at all would go against his core beliefs and allowing the child to transition would be akin to him taking his heart out of his chest and placing it on the table," said Clancy in his closing argument, according to a transcript.
Brinkman denied such allegations. The parents don't believe the hormone therapy is a "medically necessary form of treatment" and "would do more harm than good" at this time, said the attorney in a written argument.
Thomas Mellott, a lawyer representing the teen, said the girl's enrollment at a Catholic school, where she was made to wear dresses and answer to her birth name, "caused additional trauma and anxiety."
"When you lack all hope, and when he thought this would all continue to happen to him, the suicidal ideation became more pronounced, and that is how he ended up where he was," he said.
"The name has become a very big trigger," added Mellott. "It has gotten to the point where my client mentioned that he doesn't want to think about college at this point because the marketing materials he's getting keep using the birth name."
The judge on the case called the situation "gut-wrenching" for all involved. She is set to issue a ruling by Friday.