a time in their growth when young people most need the support of others as they explore their
identities, transgender youth often are told that they cannot be who they are.”116
Transgender students are commonly victimized in social situations such as at schools.
Transgender students who experienced higher levels of victimization due to their gender
expression, as compared to their peers experiencing lower levels of harassment, were three times
as likely to have missed school, and have lower GPAs.117 These students were twice as likely to
report they did not plan on pursuing post-secondary education, had higher levels of depression and
lower levels of self-esteem.118
Transgender youth without proper support have a higher risk of medical problems as well.
They are over three times more likely to be at high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted infections
than LGBT youth who are not rejected or feel only slight rejection by their parents and
caregivers.119 Transgender youth also face a higher risk of engaging in risky sexual behaviors (such
as failing to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases).120 Failure to support
transgender youth affects them on a number of levels, increasing their risk for poor mental health
and engagement with risky behaviors, opening them up to medical problems that may follow them
throughout their lives.
V. THE CURRENT LEGAL ENVIRONMENT REGARDING
THE RIGHTS OF PARENTS OF TRANSGENDER YOUTH
For the most part, transgender youth seeking to transition lack the legal capacity to consent
to the relevant medical treatments.121 An obligation should be placed on the State to guarantee the
youth justice system is structured to ensure children’s foundational rights are not permanently or
irreparably harmed before legally becoming an adult.122 The legal profession, generally using a
binary understanding of gender and lacking precedent, needs to catch up to the modern landscape
of transgender issues.123
“[T]he law should – and indeed does, in some circumstances—go further than simply
aiming to secure for the child an adulthood where she enjoys agency; it should seek to provide the
child with the capacities for full autonomy.”124 Because no capacity exists for a legal representative
to be appointed to act solely on a child’s instructions, providing a child with the capacities for full
autonomy can be difficult.125 This results in a serious concern that a child will not have the
opportunity to express their views to the court in a truly independent way.126
116 Howe, supra note 16, at 2.
117 GLSEN, supra note 89, at 6.
119 RYAN, supra note 27, at 4.
122 Kathryn Hollingsworth, Theorizing Children’s Rights in Youth Justice: The Significance of Autonomy and
Foundational Rights, 76 MOD. L. REV. 1046, 1049 (2013).
123 Baer, supra note 66; see also Perkiss, supra note 13, at 78 (bias favors traditional gender norms, which may explain
courts’ tendencies to place children in the custody of the non-supportive parent).
124 Hollingsworth, supra note 122, at 1060.
125 Tobin, supra note 14, at 608.
126 Id. at 604. (“Commenters have lamented that this trend has not been continued in the U.S. nor has it been embraced
universally by judges in other jurisdictions . . . .”).