The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said Thursday that it is "reviewing" allegations of “potential child abuse” stemming from an estranged couple’s legal custody battle over whether their 7-year-old child is a transgender girl.
Anne Georgulas and Jeffrey Younger, whose four-year marriage was annulled in 2016, fought in a Dallas family court for more than two years over the conservatorship of their child, who was named James at birth and whom Georgulas calls Luna.
The child’s gender identity has been at the heart of their legal battle. Georgulas, a pediatrician, has maintained that their child was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and should be affirmed as a transgender girl.
Younger, a mathematician, has argued that Georgulas “manipulated” their child into a “false gender self-identity” and has opposed the child’s transition.
While both parents were joint managing conservators of their twin children, Georgulas had filed a petition to modify the joint conservatorship by restricting some of Younger’s rights over the kids and requiring him to affirm the child in question’s identity as a girl. Younger then filed a counterpetition urging the court to make him the sole managing conservator.
A Dallas jury on Tuesday ruled in favor of Georgulas, effectively granting her sole managing conservatorship of the two children. In its 11–1 ruling, the jury empowered Georgulas with the right to make all medical and psychological decisions for the couple’s children.
But on Thursday, Judge Kim Cooks reinstated the parents’ joint conservatorship, according to a reporter covering the proceedings at the Texan, a news site founded in 2019 by a former Republican state senator. The judge ruled that a parenting facilitator would be appointed and the two parents would share rights and duties of the children, including decisions about their medical care.
After Tuesday’s decision, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the jury decision was being “looked into” by the state attorney general.
On Thursday, the office of the state's attorney general, Ken Paxton, sent a letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), urging the agency to “investigate possible child abuse against seven-year-old James Younger, whose mother has proposed chemically and surgically altering his biological sex based on her belief that he may identify as a girl.”
The letter contended that Georgulas is “using alleged medical professionals to fundamentally alter her son’s physiology.” The letter urged the DFPS to “protect the boy in question [from] permanent and potentially irreversible harm by his mother.”
A DFPS spokesperson told BuzzFeed News the agency had received the letter and is "already reviewing the allegations."
Georgulas’s lawyers told BuzzFeed News in a statement that, despite her children being “exploited” as a result of the case, the mother has maintained her silence to protect their privacy and safety.
During the trial, Georgulas’s attorneys argued in favor of an “affirmation” approach of the child’s transition to a girl, the Texan reported. Younger argued a “watchful waiting” approach was better to see if the child reverted to identifying with their biological sex at a later age.
The jury’s decision sparked fierce reactions from Texas conservatives — the case has been closely followed by conservative outlets — including Sen. Ted Cruz, who called for the state to intervene in the case and said that the child was being used “as a pawn in a left-wing political agenda.”
And in a letter to the Department of Justice, a Republican lawmaker from Texas, Rep. Chip Roy, called for a federal study into the potential dangers of sex reassignment surgery and hormone treatment for children.
“A 7-year-old shouldn't be subjected to barbaric medical procedures because of an irresponsible adult,” Roy said, referring to Younger’s contention that Georgulas wanted to perform "chemical castration” via “hormone suppression of puberty,” a charge that Georgulas’s attorneys have denied.
“We don’t let kids drink alcohol til 21. People want to move smoking age to 21. But we will allow a 7 year old to have his life and body altered like this? This is child abuse and the state should side with the father who is trying to protect the child,” Sen. Rand Paul said in a tweet that was retweeted by Donald Trump Jr.
Younger has been vocal in his efforts to gain sole custody of the estranged couple’s children. His website, savejames.com, features a lengthy dossier detailing the case’s legal proceedings over two years and providing Younger’s perspective on the fight over the child’s gender identity.
In the document, Younger said that Georgulas “socially transitioned” their child through a name change and by dressing the child in girls clothes and using makeup. The document said that the child used the girls restroom at school.
Younger also wrote that the child “consistently and persistently chooses traditional masculine clothing” in his presence and “presents as male” in all other ways. He said the child only shows a preference for “girl’s toys” and “girl’s clothes” when at Georgulas’s house.
“Affirming a son as a girl violates the Father’s Christian religious beliefs,” Younger wrote. “When James is with his Father, he refuses girl’s clothes, says he is a boy to family and to friends, refuses to play with girls, and engages in typically male play.”
In a video that Younger shot when the child was 3 — and which was subsequently shared by conservative outlets during the trial — Younger asks, “You’re a boy, right?”
The child responds, “No, I’m a girl.”
Younger asks, “Who told you you’re a girl?” The child responds, “Mommy.”
Younger’s motto to “save James” has been turned into a hashtag, mobilizing several conservative advocates to voice their opposition to what they characterize as Georgulas's “forced gender transition” of a 7-year-old.
As a result, Georgulas has been subjected to “threats, harassment, and even vandalism,” her attorneys, Jessica Janicek and Laura Hayes, said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday.
“A completely distorted and untrue version of events in this case has been circling the media,” the statement said. “My client is being viciously attacked and threatened by complete strangers based on false and untrue statements. That is unacceptable.”
The attorneys added: "The ruling issued by a jury of peers, after hearing both sides of this case, should call into question the distorted and untrue version of events that has been circulated."