The parents of a transgender child presently in the custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services ( DCFS ) had a March 7 custody hearing in front of Cook County Juvenile Justice And Child Protection Division Judge Robert Balanoff March 7.
Present at the proceedings were the child's parents, their attorneys and family friends some of whom had been called to appear as witnesses. Also, Robert F. Harris ( the Cook County Public Guardian assigned to the child's case ).
According to supporters of her parents, the child was initially taken Advocate Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn Feb. 3 owing to medical issues including diabetes and epilepsy.
She remains there today without her parents at her side.
In a Facebook post appealing for public support, family friend Kathy Blazer-Williams wrote that the child's parents were subsequently denied access to her for a month. She accused Advocate of possibly cutting the child's hair, addressing her with a boy's name and only providing male-associated toys for her to play with.
At least a dozen protestors showed up to support the family after the Chicago-based Trans Liberation Collective posted about the hearing.
"We heard that a child had been medically kidnapped and possibly subjected to medical de-transitioning and taken away from her family because she identifies as trans," Trans Liberation Collective co-organizer Stephanie Skora told Windy City Times.
Skora said it was the protestor's hope to exert some pressure on the court to make the right decision. Failing that, they wanted to offer the family some comfort.
"It's hard to overstate how vulnerable trans kids are," Skora added. "Because of societal and medicalized transphobia, trans kids aren't taken seriously a lot of the time and they're very vulnerable to mistreatment. When they're fortunate enough to have supportive families, they can be taken away from those families just because people disagree with the politics of their gender."
Protestor Will Shakara said they ( preferred pronouns ) were concerned about what would happen to a transgender child caught up in the DCFS system.
"I was put in the system when I was nine," they said. "There are fewer homes than there are children that need homes. So they don't vet the foster parents as hard as they should. In my experience, parents looking for foster kids aren't looking for children they might consider to be 'problems.' It's like going to the pound to pick up a puppy."
Before adjourning the proceedings for lunch, Balanoff briefly invited the family's supporters into the closed hearing.
"As a person who believes in public protest, I know how important that is," Balanoff said. "I am aware of [the child's] choices and I respect them."
However, Balanoff asked supporters to think about refraining from publicizing the case on the internet.
"Please respect [the child's] privacy," he said. "Would you want everyone to know what happened to you as a a child?"
A DCFS spokesperson asserted that the case had nothing to do with the child's gender identity claiming instead that it was due to a DCFS hotline call reporting "medical abuse."
However, anonymous sources have indicated that Advocate hospital doctors are engaged in a vendetta against the family that maybe religiously or politically motivated.
Windy City Times is investigating.
The case was continued until Friday.