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When Girls Play With G.I. Joes and Boys Play with Barbies: The Path to Gender Reassignment in Minors


Nicole Burt


Currently, the process of gender reassignment in minors requires parental consent and the approval of a mental-health counselor. The actual treatment can begin with puberty blockers-which stall the beginnings of puberty-followed by hormone injections to transform the minor into the requested gender. The hormone injections are thought to have irreversible features, but the effects of these injections are largely untested. The final step, surgical reassignment, is seemingly limited to those over the age of eighteen. The process of reassignment in minors has seen a substantial increase nationwide over the past decade, although the exact number of those seeking reassignment is hard to define. There are a number of concerns regarding gender reassignment in minors, concerns which come from both sides of the political aisle. This Note will review some of these concerns, namely: the lack of research on the effects of reassignment, the conflicting results of treatment, the possible influence of authority figures, and the proven mental instability and gender fluidity of minors.

In response to the increase of gender reassignment in minors and the many concerns associated with reassignment, this Note proposes legislation that would give courts greater oversight in the reassignment approval process. This legislation requires a minor seeking reassignment to petition the court, who would subsequently serve notice and summons to an appointed agency of the governing state. This agency would presumptively oppose the petition in efforts to create an adversarial landscape. The court would ultimately have authority to approve or deny the requested reassignment, with the aid of a Guardian ad Litem appointed to represent the best interests of the child. There may be constitutional roadblocks to the enforcement of such a statute, however, this Note acknowledges those roadblocks and recognizes the ways in which this legislation could overcome them.