There Are Limits To Parental Authority

Recently it has been argued (on a podcast co-hosted by Mary Katherine Ham and in an op-ed by David French) that parents have the right, if they will, to subject their children to sex re-assignment surgery. French objects to the alleged interference by the State of Texas with the civil liberties of parents:

And because every culture war action against civil liberties has its mirror image on the other side, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas issued a directive to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate as “abuse” both surgical and pharmaceutical interventions for transgender children, regardless of the good faith and desires of the parents, children and caregivers involved.

French is right to be concerned about the preservation of civil liberties. A good case can be made that they are under assault, but whether parents have the civil liberty to change the sex of their children chemically and surgically must be determined.

By nature, we know that the family is the basic unit of society and that children generally belong to parents. Children are born to parents, not to the state. It is parents who feed and clothe, nurture, protect, educate, and raise them. Families delegate some of their authority (e.g., the right to achieve justice or to educate their children) to society, but the authority and responsibility for security and education belong originally to the parents.

Since they are logically and naturally prior to the state, whose authority is derived, parents have a natural right to supervise the welfare and education of their children. That is why it is so objectionable when schools and other agencies try to subvert the natural (God-given) authority of parents over their children. They are capitalizing on the natural uncertainty of pubescent teens about their identity in order to recruit them to the LGBTQ ideologies and identities. The flavor of the day is transgenderism and this is no innocent fad. There are waves of young people, especially females, becoming “trans.”

According to a 2022 New York Times article,

The number of young people who identify as transgender has nearly doubled in recent years, according to a new report that captures a stark generational shift and emerging societal embrace of a diversity of gender identities.

The study found people 13 to 25 accounted for a disproportionately largely share of the transgender population. While younger teenagers were just 7.6 percent of the total U.S. population, they made up roughly 18 percent of transgender people. Likewise, 18- to 24-year-olds made up 11 percent of the total population but 24 percent of the transgender population.

This is not normal. It is a sort of mass psychosis, one which too often seems to involve parents as well.

Here is where the issue is joined. Does the authority of parents extend to trans-sexual—the very term transgender is misleading since it only tells half the story—medical treatment? No. There are a small number of cases in which children are born sexually indeterminate, and in those cases, parents have the natural authority to decide on the treatment of their children. In the case of trans medical and psychiatric treatment, however, we are considering changing the gender identity and the genitalia of children from one sex to another. Of course, nature itself limits what physicians are able to do. They cannot change the genetic code with which children are born, and there is a wave of stories (e.g., this one) from and about young people and others who regret attempting to change their sex (their bodies) and their gender (how they present themselves to the world). #transreget is a popular topic on Twitter. There is a Substack devoted to parents who have lost their children to the trans cult.

For parents to give permission to physicians to experiment with hormone treatments and radical, life-altering surgery on their children is for them to abandon their natural obligation to care for and protect their children from themselves. Just as parents do not let their children play with matches or knives, so also they may not consent to surgery that will certainly ruin a child’s future.

Of course pre-teen and teen-aged children are confused. Who was not confused at thirteen? Are parents so desperate for their children’s approval that they are unwilling to make the hard decisions and suffer the slings and arrows of teen outrage? Grow up. Do your job. The reason that parents may not permit their children to make damaging, destructive, nearly irreversible decisions—at least tattoos and nose rings can be removed—is the same reason that they may not murder them in the womb or after, it is a fundamental contradiction of their very nature vocation and function as caregivers.

There is a reasonable case to be made that parents who voluntarily submit their child to this sort of maltreatment should be made to answer to the child protection services. If they permit this sort of treatment, what else are they doing to their children?

Parents seem to be panicking in a way that I have never seen before. Teen children do not know what they will be or want when they are twenty-five or thirty. We know that from listening to the stories of those who were allowed, or even encouraged, by parents to undergo gender mutilation—remember all the outrage about female genital mutilation practiced in Muslim cultures? How is trans surgery fundamentally different? Those who have been through the meat grinder of the Big Trans industry can tell you how foolish it was and how much they regret it. Many of them will never be normal again. Some have dramatically reduced their life expectancy, and for what? To satisfy an urge brought on by madness? That is madness itself.

The State of Texas and other states have a legal and natural interest in the welfare of their citizens, including minors who are subject to medical malpractice permitted by negligent parenting. They have a right to intervene. They are depriving no one of their civil liberties because no one has a natural right to attempt to change their sex. It is amazing that I even had to write that last sentence. Just as the State of Texas has a natural interest in preventing abortionists from murdering human beings in utero, so it has a right and interest in preventing the medical and parental abuse of minors. Texas Child Protective Services does this work every day.

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


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  1. Thank you for this, Dr Clark. I hadn’t thought about the case of parents going along with their children’s delusions.

  2. Since when is it a given that teens and pre-teens are confused about who they are? Maybe I’m in the minority but I wasn’t.

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