The parents of an autistic teen in England say they were threatened that their son would be removed from their custody following their objections about giving him puberty blockers. The parents of the teen, who spoke on condition of anonymity, feared the potential side effects of the drugs, and stopped him from going to a gender clinic. They suspected his sudden decision to pursue gender transition was due to his autism. Doctors at the National Health Service clinic had recommended he take puberty blockers to suppress his puberty after he declared he was female.
When the teenager told the school he had been forbidden to obtain the drugs, a teacher told his parents that they should find alternative accommodation for their son or else he would be put into temporary foster care. The school reported the couple to child services for being “emotionally abusive” to their son by not supporting his wish to go ahead with the treatments. Local authorities placed him one month later in child protection after social workers said he was likely to suffer ‘significant harm’ under his parents’ care.” The mother said “I’m devastated. When I saw the written report from social services and saw the words ’emotional abuse,’ I broke down,” she said.
“All we were doing was trying to get him to pause and think about his actions. My biggest worry is my child gets pushed down this route, becomes a woman, goes through the surgery, then gets to 25 and says, ‘I’ve made a mistake.”’ The teen boy was struggling to cope with school pressures starting in 2015 as a result of Asperger’s and autism. He began self-harming and his parents asked his doctor to refer him to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. Although he had never said so before, during an appointment with a child psychotherapist the boy announced he believed he was female.
His parents thought the idea of him being the opposite sex may have been an autistic obsession and ultimately agreed for him to be referred on to the Leeds branch of the Tavistock Clinic. But the professionals there never adequately understood their son’s autism, the parents said. The couple removed the boy from Tavistock in 2017, when he was about to turn 15, upon seeing a report recommending puberty blockers for him. When the school reported them to authorities. “The school and social workers took what our child said as gospel. But considering he has autism, his perception of social scenarios is seen through an autism lens,” the boy’s mother said.
“I cannot bear the thought of other families going through what we’ve been through.” The family is now back together. The ordeal is the latest episode to appear in the headlines as courts and Western governments increasingly rule in favour of transgender medicalization. In British Columbia a trans-identifying 14-year-old girl was to be injected with testosterone despite her father’s objections. The father’s refusal to comply, the judge said, was tantamount to “family violence.” In the United States, in February of 2018, a judge in Ohio, ruled that a 17-year-old should be removed from the custody of her parents due to their objections to transgender medicine.
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