LEBANON, Ohio (CBS Local) – “Age. Develop. Mature.” That was the message of an Ohio judge to a transgender teen after denying his parents’ request to change their child’s name.
Warren County probate judge Joseph Kirby refused to allow Leigh and Kylen Whitaker’s attempt to change their 15-year-old’s name from Heidi to Elliott on June 22. The Whitakers are now appealing the ruling, claiming that Judge Kirby violated their constitutional rights.
“We thought it was just a formality,” the teen’s mother, Leigh Whitaker told WKRC.
According to court documents, Judge Kirby did not understand the family’s reasoning for the name change request. “Children change significantly and rapidly,” the judge wrote. Kirby ended his decision by writing that the teen can apply for a name change when he becomes an adult.
The parents claim that the Ohio judge also questioned whether their child’s desire to be called Elliott was influenced by media coverage of Bruce Jenner’s transformation to Caitlyn Jenner.
“The judge met with us for 15 to 20 minutes and then decided that he knew better than the parents and the doctors and our child. We just don’t feel that’s right,” the teen’s father, Kylen Whitaker said.
The Whitakers added that Elliot came out to them a year ago. “We did do a lot of therapy to make sure that this was something that was real,” Leigh Whitaker explained.
LGBTQ attorney Josh Langdon says the judge violated the “parents right to decide the upbringing of their child.” Judge Kirby denied two other requests for name changes involving transgender people on June 22, however the judge has reportedly approved such changes in the past.
The 12th Circuit Court of Appeals will reportedly hear the Whitaker’s appeal.