Seven-year-old James Younger is trapped. Whether he’s a girl stuck in a boy’s body or just in a gut-wrenching custody battle is largely up to a judge. But he’s trapped all the same in a society that now bears responsibility for the protection of children it has made all too vulnerable.
A stateless society, libertarians promise, would provide better security and prosperity than a statist order could. But, what about the children, a common refrain goes.
Children’s rights and parental rights are challenging areas of debate for any social order, but the most difficult scenario of all might be something like what is going on with James Younger, a 7-year-old twin boy whose father and mother are fighting over him and his gender identity.
It’s been in the news lately that a Dallas jury decided 11-1 against the father Jeffrey Younger, who petitioned for custody (technically sole managing conservatorship) of his boys James and Jude. A judge is set to decide very soon exactly how custody will be worked out with the mother Anne Georgulas, who claims James is transgender and has expressed support for puberty blocking invasive treatments.
Georgulas, a pediatrician, also is demanding Jeffrey refer to his son as a girl named “Luna” and not allow the boy around any people or relatives who don’t support the gender transition.
What is the libertarian solution to this problem? First, as almost always, the principle of subsidiarity applies. Those closest to the matter with the most knowledge and skin in the game are probably better to call upon than anyone else. But on another level, the society-at-large must closely watch these proceedings and consider the conditions leading up to whatever ramifications come about.
Clearly, the child is the victim par excellence here. If the rightful parent loses custody, the child suffers more than that parent. The libertarian’s concern for justice lies with the child most of all, as he bears no responsibility for his environment. But justice is not always produced by people in black robes.
If justice means preventing a prepubescent child from suffering the irreversible costs of cross-sex hormone therapy, it is quite possible the judge will act unjustly in accordance with the current day’s appetite for political correctness.
Disobedience of an unjust ruling is a libertarian virtue, one that may be necessary to pursue if that happened. Vigilante justice shouldn’t be necessary, and hopefully, the father wouldn’t be so desperate as to stow the kid away on a plane to Russia, as some have suggested.
However, a more sensible solution is possible through a sanctuary like a church or other center of civic community. The father’s church has come out with a general statement against transitioning genders of prepubescent children. It could be a logical next step that his church offers him and his son refuge as a last resort, although it would be unprecedented in this narrow issue.
Whatever happens to James Younger, he won’t be the last child to experience something like this. There is only so much that a random individual can do regarding this case, and some are organizing protests and fundraisers. But libertarians ought to take a special interest in matters like this, because the future of parental rights, children’s rights and the moral character of society as a whole is anything but certain.