How a dad lost custody of son after questioning his transgender identity

February 26, 2023 – Abigail Shrier, New York Post

In August 2019, Ted Hudacko’s wife, Christine, walked into his home office with two announcements: she was leaving Ted, and their 15-year-old son, Drew*, was transgender. Ted, a Bay Area father of two and software engineer at Apple, was then preoccupied with a grueling work project. He hadn’t slept well in weeks and says he begged to have this conversation after he had gotten some rest. But Christine walked out, taking the kids to stay with her at a neighbor’s house.

Ted was deeply skeptical that the boy he’d coached in little league was actually a young woman, but he tried to keep an open mind. Nevertheless, Ted was adamant that he did not want Drew to begin medical transition. Ted delved into the research on medical transition and gender dysphoria (severe discomfort in one’s biological sex). He learned that puberty blockers could impair cognition and diminish bone density. If given puberty blockers along with estrogen, Drew could become permanently infertile. Ted wasn’t even sure his son had gender dysphoria.

The judge who handled their divorce saw things differently. California Superior Court Judge Joni Hiramoto grilled Ted on whether he believed that being transgender was a sin (he didn’t), whether he’d prefer that Drew’s transgender identification was a phase, and whether Ted would continue to love Drew even if his son deemed himself to be the Queen of England. 

The judge then granted Christine sole legal custody of Drew on a temporary basis and approved a shared legal and physical custody arrangement of their younger son. She assured Ted that her decision was not yet permanent and ordered the appointment of a minor’s counsel to investigate how Drew was faring and represent Drew’s interests. Within just a few months, Hiramoto would strip Ted of his parental rights. Ted lost the right to see or speak to Drew. Ted also lost the power to stop a medical transition already planned by the gender doctors at UCSF Benioff Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic.

Judge Joni Hiramoto presided over the Hudacko case, but never disclosed that she is a mother to a transgender child herself.
Judge Joni Hiramoto presided over the Hudacko case, but never disclosed that she is a mother to a transgender child herself.

Judge Hiramoto never disclosed to the parties that she is a mother to a transgender child whose transition she publicly supported on social media. Under ethical standards for judges, she almost certainly should have disclosed this. But even had she recused herself, it might not have changed the outcome. Gender activists now regularly provide “training” to family court judges in many states touting the purported benefits of gender medicine for kids with little discussion of the risks or the existence of prominent critics within the medical community.

In another family court case in Arizona, judges stripped parents of custody of their troubled 15-year-old daughter when they refused to agree that she was a boy. The judicial “training” sessions that the judge received through the court system included five talks by activists over two years. They did not involve hearing from detransitioners — young people who regret their hasty medical transitions — nor from any of the parents who have watched their teens’ lives made worse by a sudden gender swap, nor from a single doctor who is skeptical of quick adolescent medical transition.

Ted Hudacko’s custody battle provides a case study of how gender ideology has infiltrated family law. Judges now decide the fate of children and their families based on unsubstantiated metaphysics, as if it were factual that every adolescent has an immutable “gender identity,” knowable only to the teen himself.

The minor’s counsel selected by Hiramoto met with Ted’s sons, interviewed Drew’s therapist and both parents, and conducted two 90-minute interviews with Diane Ehrensaft of the UCSF pediatric gender clinic. Ted requested that minor’s counsel also interview Ken Zucker, a Toronto-based psychologist and world-leading gender-dysphoria specialist, but the request was denied.  

Zucker is a practitioner of “watchful waiting,” a method of exploratory therapy that considers gender as only one component of what may be causing a child’s distress. Watchful waiting recognizes that more than 70% of kids with gender dysphoria typically outgrow it.

By contrast, Diane Ehrensaft is a leading advocate of the affirmation-only approach, which places the minor in the driver’s seat of his own diagnosis and treatment. The minor’s counsel embraced her views.

In August of 2020, Judge Hiramoto decided that Christine should retain full legal custody on a permanent basis. The only right Ted seems to have retained is the power to prevent Drew from undergoing “any gender identity related surgery” before age 18.

n October 2021, a $209,820.34 charge appeared on Ted’s insurance statement. When he wrote to Christine, she confirmed that, months earlier, a puberty-blocking implant had been inserted in Drew’s arm and that Drew had begun a course of cross-sex hormones. The combination would likely soon sterilize Drew, if it hadn’t already. No one had obtained Ted’s permission.  

Abigail Shrier is the author of “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.” This piece originally appeared in City Journal. Drew’s name has been changed for this article.

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