By Holly HonderichBBC News
A Texas judge has given joint custody to two parents locked in a bitter dispute over the gender identity of their child, in a case that has provoked wider debate over the appropriate age for gender transitions.
During the trial, Anne Georgulas said her child – named James at birth – identifies as a girl and wishes to be called Luna.
But the father, Jeffrey Younger, claimed Dr Georgulas has pressured their child to identify as female, and charged his ex-wife with child abuse.
Judge Kim Cooks ruled on Thursday that decisions over issues like medical procedures and psychiatric treatment should be reached by Mr Younger and Dr Georgulas together.
In doing so, she overruled a prior decision by a Dallas jury that voted 11-1 to give Dr Georgulas sole control of the child’s medical and physiological care. In Texas parties in custody disputes can opt for a trial by jury, but a judge can review the decision.
The case has sparked outcry on the political right, with conservatives echoing Mr Younger’s claims of child abuse.
Dr Georgulas, a paediatrician, said her child – who has a twin brother – began to express a desire to be a girl in 2015, when the child was three, asking to wear dresses and look like the female characters from the Disney movie Frozen.
Mr Younger and Dr Georgulas’ four-year marriage was annulled in 2016, at which point Dr Georgulas was given exclusive control of decisions regarding medical, psychological and educational issues.
“[The child] has been dressing as a girl in public, going to school in public as a girl, and requests that she be named Luna,” a lawyer for Dr Georgulas, Kim Meaders, told a court last year.
At the child’s five-year-old medical check-up, the doctor diagnosed the child with “gender identity disorder”, Dr Georgulas testified.
After the next annual check-up, the doctor wrote that child was “still referring to self as female”
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