Warren County judge rejects transgender child’s name change; family appeals

A Mason family has appealed a Warren County judge’s rejection of their motion to change their child’s name from Heidi Clare Whitaker to Elliott John Whitaker.

Stephanie and Kylen Whitaker filed for the name change on April 24 in Warren County Juvenile Court on behalf of their 15-year-old child.

“The child picked a name to suit gender identity,” Stephanie Whitaker said in the motion.

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On June 22, Judge Joe Kirby ruled the motion was “not well taken” and denied the name change.

“Mother wishes to change the child’s name from Heidi Claire Whitaker to a male name, Elliott John Whitaker, because the child identifies herself as a transgender male. The child was born female,” Kirby wrote in the motion.

Kirby said the change was not “reasonable and proper and in the child’s best interest at this time.”’

The judge said Elliott has been in therapy for about a year. Diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria, he is in counseling and undergoing medical treatment.

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“She first realized she was transgender in the spring of 2017 and started to cut her hair and wear boy clothes,” Kirby wrote.

The child was to begin getting testosterone treatments that “will artificially put her body through male puberty,” according to the decision.

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The judge wrote: “Heidi is aware that some of the hormonal therapies are permanent in nature and are irreversible. She realizes that she is already called Elliott, but there are some instances in which her birth name Heidi is and will be used: her school still uses her birth name on their official rosters and yearbooks, substitute teachers call her by her birth name, her driver’s license will have her birth name once she applies for one, and any future passport applications and college applications she makes will have her birth name as well.”

While acknowledging the name change would “resolve some of the feelings of distress,” Kirby said the court “must consider the best interest of the child.”

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Noting the child’s age, Kirby concluded, “In essence, the court isn’t saying ‘no’ to the name change. The court is simply saying ‘not yet’.”

On Monday, Stephanie Whitaker appealed Kirby’s decision.

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