JudicialTexas Supreme Court Denies Jeff Younger’s Petition to Keep Children in Texas in Light of California ‘Trans Refuge’ Law

The court majority dismissed Younger's petition, insisting it couldn't rule on a hypothetical situation and that the current custody order is sufficient.
January 2, 2023
The Texas Supreme Court dismissed Jeff Younger’s petition to prohibit his ex-wife from moving with their two children to California, where a law became effective on Sunday that “provide[s] refuge for trans kids and their families” from other states’ restrictions on child gender modification.

Younger and his ex-wife, Anne Georgulas, are in a years-long custody dispute over their sons — one of whom, James, identifies as a transgender female named “Luna” according to Georgulas. Younger objects to this and contends that James identifies and acts as a male around him.

In August 2021, a Dallas district court judge granted Georgulas full custody. But an October 2021 court order, agreed to by both parents, states that “neither parent may treat a child with hormonal suppression therapy, puberty blockers, and/or transgender reassignment surgery (if any) without the consent of the parents or court order.”

But California’s Senate Bill 107 “prohibit[s] the enforcement of an order based on another state’s law authorizing a child to be removed from their parent or guardian based on that parent or guardian allowing their child to receive gender-affirming health care or gender-affirming mental health care.”

In light of this law, Younger petitioned the state supreme court to order Georgulas return the children to Texas before the California law became effective on New Year’s Day — and the court agreed to consider the case days before 2022’s end. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) sided with Younger in an amicus letter.

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On New Year’s Eve, the Texas Supreme Court dismissed Younger’s petition, saying the appeal was both belated and unnecessary. Justice John Devine dissented from the majority’s decision.

This Court cannot intervene based on tenuous speculation about what other courts might do in the future at the request of a party who may never ask,” the court’s concurring opinion reads, written by Justices Jimmy Blacklock and Evan Young.

The only court to have acted so far has preserved Father’s right to withhold consent to gender-transition therapy for his son. That right is enforceable in California, where Mother lacks the legal authority to consent to such therapy for the child, both before and after SB 107.”

The justices added that if Georgulas attempts to modify the district court order — allowing their child to begin gender transition procedures without Younger’s consent — he “could seek immediate appellate relief.”

The concurring opinion also admonished Younger for representing himself in the filing; he did not file the petition with named legal counsel.

Given the complexity of this case’s history and the sensitivity and novelty of many of the legal arguments involved, Father would be well-advised to seek competent counsel if he again pursues relief in this Court,” reads a footnote in the opinion.

Another footnote states that Younger has “refused to see either of his children in over a year,” and the justices stated they “found it troubling.”

Younger’s original petition says that is the case because “[Younger] refused to participate in the abuse of his son at the court ordered supervised visitations. [Younger] refused to violate his conscience and sincerely held religious beliefs by affirming that his son is a girl.”

“The Court-ordered psychologists supervising [Younger] refused to allow [him] to change his son … out of a dress. This would have forced [Younger] to affirm his son as a girl. [He] also feared that his son would be embarrassed to appear in a dress in his presence, causing emotional trauma.”

Younger reacted to the dismissal, stating on Twitter, “The Supreme Court of Texas denied my Mandamus, effectively terminating my parental rights. My children are now subject to being chemically castrated in California. Texas is an empire of child abuse, led by Texas judges.”

About this contention, a rejoinder from the concurring opinion stated, “Concern that any of this will happen would be entirely speculative in any case.”

In this case, given that Mother has now represented to both this Court and the district court that she has no intention of trying to make it happen, it is not merely speculative but potentially prohibited.”

But the OAG contended in its letter that the California law may present a problem for orders such as the one that governs the Younger children’s custody. “The law is set to go into effect in just nine days, meaning that the enforceability of an unknown number of Texas child custody orders will be in jeopardy if this Court fails to provide relief,” the office wrote.

“The need for relief in this case is particularly acute because the question presented here is both of constitutional significance [of conflicting and opposite state laws and likely to recur over the next nine days.”

Younger further tweeted, “The only safe way for a man to have children is through a surrogate. In marriage, children effectively at-law belong to the mother not the father. Most men lose their kids. Surrogacy is the only way for men to be secure in their posterity.”

James Younger is not currently receiving any medical gender transition procedures, but he continues to be treated by Georgulas as “Luna.”

The ruling sets the table for another white-hot debate over prospective bans of gender modification procedures on children. Multiple versions of bans have already been filed by legislators ahead of this coming session after the 2021 versions stalled out in the Texas House.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include mention of the second footnote, concerning Younger’s lack of visitation with his children.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.