- Seven-year-old boy 'living life entirely as girl' removed from mother's care
- Youngster has been sent to live with his father following High Court ruling
- The judge said the woman had caused her son 'significant emotional harm'
- He said the mother had been 'absolutely convinced' that the youngster 'perceived himself as a girl' and was determined that he should be a girl
Social workers let a mother raise her young son as a girl because they were in thrall to ‘transgender equality’.
The boy, who was made to wear a pink hairband, dresses and nail varnish, lived ‘entirely as a girl’.
He was registered as a girl with his doctor’s surgery and was referred to as ‘she’ in official documentation from the age of just four.
But despite the alarm being raised by officials and the boy’s father, council staff failed to intervene.
Details of the extraordinary case were revealed at the Family Court yesterday when a judge accused the boy’s social workers of naivety and professional arrogance.
The seven-year-old, who cannot be identified, has been removed from his mother’s care and is living with his father in the north of England.
He now regards himself as male and plays with toys such as Power Rangers. The judge, Mr Justice Hayden, said: ‘This is not a case about gender dysphoria, rather it is about a mother who has developed a belief structure which she has imposed upon her child.
‘I am bound to say that had the concerns [of school staff] been given the weight that they plainly should have, it is difficult to resist the conclusion the boy could have been spared a great deal of emotional harm.’
He added: ‘Transgender equality has received a great deal of attention in recent times. I believe that in this case the profile and sensitivity of the matters raised by the mother blinded a number of professionals from applying their training, skill, and, it has to be said, common sense‘They failed properly to investigate the mother’s assertions, in part I suspect, because they did not wish to appear to be challenging an emerging orthodoxy in such a high-profile issue.’
Last night, the council involved – it cannot be named – said an inquiry was under way into its handling of the case.
The boy’s 40-year-old mother had separated from her younger partner within 12 months of their son’s birth in 2009. The pair initially agreed to look after their son cooperatively.
But when the arrangement broke down in 2013 the father went to court to restore contact with his child.
By then the boy’s mother had started sending him to primary school wearing a pink headband and nail varnish. She told teachers her son was ‘gender non conforming’.
Social services received repeated warnings over the welfare of the child throughout 2013 and 2014, including a report that the mother was insisting her son was transgender.
She had reportedly claimed ‘that she was going to disappear with him and “they will never find [us]”.’
The woman had apparently reduced a teacher to tears during a confrontation in which she said the boy should be sent to a gender reassignment clinic. She also repeatedly claimed to police her son had been the victim of ‘hate crime’ due to his gender status.
Social workers failed to act despite concerns being raised by the school.
In May 2014, the council’s housing department also raised the alarm, saying that the mother was claiming her son had been diagnosed as transgender at the age of four.
Officials said the boy ‘looked dirty, had pen marks on his legs and was dressed as a girl’. No further action was taken because there were ‘no safeguarding concerns’. By August the clamour from the boy’s school, the NSPCC, a GP and the housing unit finally forced the council to act.
But a visit to the family by social workers ended with the remarks: ‘The assessment concluded that there was no evident concerns suggesting he was at immediate risk of harm.
‘The mother is very clear that she is supporting her son with whatever choices he makes and she presents with a good understanding of his needs. There were no concerns from the social worker regarding the mother’s approach to her son’s gender presentation. Upon completion of the assessment, no further action was taken by children’s services.’
The report noted that ‘despite there being a high number of referrals the concerns have not been substantiated and did not meet the threshold for further intervention’. Sitting at the Family Division of the High Court, Mr Justice Hayden demanded the head of children’s services undertake a thorough review to maintain confidence in its safeguarding policies.
The council had ‘moved into wholesale acceptance that the boy should be regarded as a girl,’ he said. ‘Once again, I make no apology for repeating the fact that he was still only four. There was no independent or supportive evidence that he identified as a girl at all, indeed there was a body of investigation that suggested the contrary.’
The mother told Mr Justice Hayden that her son had ‘expressed disdain for his penis’ and said she was absolutely convinced her son perceived himself as a girl.’
A psychologist told the court that the mother, a former mental health nurse, had become ‘locked into a rigid and unshakeable belief structure’ about her son’s gender in what was described as an ‘enmeshed relationship’.
A spokesman for the council said: ‘We take our safeguarding responsibilities very seriously and accept the judge’s comments in relation to this case. There is very clear learning for the authority and other key agencies in this matter.
‘We have already begun to review our practice and involvement in this case so that lessons can be learned and shared.’
Now he’s ditched pink hairbands and plays with Power Rangers
By Josh White
Hailing from an ordinary suburb of a northern city, the child, known only as J, was forced to live to as a girl from infancy. Raised by an ostensibly loving but sometimes ‘abusive and bombastic’ mother, the child regularly appeared at school in a pretty dress, with a pink hairband and painted nails.
Yesterday the judge said J was now interested in more traditional boys’ things. ‘I have noted from reports that [the boy] has become interested in Power Rangers, SpongeBob, superheroes and is constantly finding new interests,’ he said.
‘It is striking that most of [the boy’s] interests are male-oriented. I am entirely satisfied, both on the basis of the reports and [the father’s] evidence, that he has brought no pressure on [the boy] to pursue masculine interests. [The boy’s] interests and energy are entirely self-motivated.’
The judge heard that when quizzed by concerned teachers, his mother told them her son was ‘happy’ to look like a girl. Yet the teachers noticed he didn’t ‘display any differences to the other boys’ in class.
Out of school, J happily played with children on his street, but such experiences were marred by his mother’s fear of transphobic bullying. On several occasions she rang the police to report other children for hate crimes – including an instance when youngsters tried to pull down his trousers to check his sex.
The incident was recorded as a transphobic hate crime by police, although no further action was taken.
Social workers noted after the incident: ‘[The mother] intervened and took [her son] inside, informing the children they are no longer allowed to play with [him]’.
But behind closed doors, every aspect of his life was being governed by the close relationship with his mother.
‘In enmeshed families the individual gets lost in the system,’ a clinical psychologist observed. ‘[The mother’s] wish for emotional exclusivity means that [she] had removed [him] from a range of ordinary socialising experiences though she refutes this and believes that she has acted to protect [him] from bullying.’
In late 2014, the mother took her son out of school due to her obsession that he was being bullied. Social workers accepted her claims that J had been diagnosed as gender dysphoric (a gender identity disorder) and, despite his increasingly dirty appearance, still refused to intervene.
By the end of the following year, he was living entirely as a girl. He was registered at a new GP as a girl and was permanently in female clothes. By the time his mother was taken to court, she spoke of his gender in ‘the opaque and convoluted argot of social work and psychology’.
‘She offered an impressive, intense and highly articulate evaluation of the problems faced by children with gender dysphoria but she conveyed no sense of J’s personality, temperament or enthusiasms,’ the judge said.
Since being placed with the father and his partner, the boy is happier, but remains affected by his confused early life.
He ‘constantly rearranges his private parts and seems uncomfortable’ and had been known to ‘wear several pairs of knickers’. His father was left shocked when his son said he did ‘not like his floppy bits flopping around’ and explained his rudimentary knowledge of sex change procedures.
When a visiting teacher confused him for a girl, he asserted in front of the entire class: ‘No, I am a boy.’ He continues to express alarm and discomfort when other boys take off their tops when they play in the park. Experts have linked this behaviour to the disturbing idea of his mother affording him ‘considerable knowledge or discussion of genital anatomy’. But free of her manipulation, J now ‘very clearly identifies himself as a boy’, the judge found.
However his mother – with whom he is permitted limited contact – seems still trapped by her beliefs.
At a meeting in July, she asked her son: ‘Are you allowed to do girlie stuff?’
‘I can if I want,’ he replied.
‘Do you want be a girl?’ she insisted. When her son didn’t answer, she said: ‘I know you are a girl and you feel like a girl and want to be a girl. I know you do – grown ups don’t understand – you need to tell them.’