Parents of Transgender teen lose custody over "verbal and emotional abuse"

A Transgender teenager has won a case against his parents in which they fought to regain custody of him after not recognising his gender identity.

Protests for Transgender rights
Image: Pexel Oriel Frankie Ashcroft

Content Warning: Contains descriptions of suicidal ideation and transphobia.

In Western Australia, a set of parents have just lost custody of their Transgender son, after failing to recognise his gender identity and abusing him both verbally and emotionally, QNews reports.

The teenager, who the courts are calling TM, applied for a protection order against his parents in October 2020 when he was taken into care. This protection order was granted, with a magistrate finding that under the care of his parents TM was at risk of suicidal ideation.

TM had previously been hospitalised at Perth Children’s Hospital and, there, he was formally diagnosed with gender dysphoria. While he was an inpatient, he told social workers that he didn’t feel safe at home.

This contributed to the passing of the protection order against TM’s parents with the magistrate finding that TM’s “suicidal ideation was to a great extent [a] result of the effect of… verbal and emotional abuse” faced in his family home.

The court also found that if TM were to go back into the care of his parents, he would “experience extreme distress and a recurrence or an increase in suicidal ideation”.

TM’s parents appealed the decision to the Supreme Court and fought for custody, denying the allegations of abuse against their Transgender son, while also dismissing claims that he was suicidal.

However, on September 28, the ruling was upheld by Supreme Court Chief Justice Peter Quinlan, with the court reiterating that the teen’s parents “did not and do not wish” to acknowledge TM’s gender identity.

According to a psychiatrist’s report from the period when TM was being treated in hospital, the teen would be “at a high risk of completed suicide” should his parents regain custody.

While Judge Quinlan acknowledged that the parents were found not to have any ill intent towards their son, “The best interests of TM were, as a matter of law, the paramount consideration. All other considerations were secondary.”

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