Indiana Catholic couple ‘living every parent’s nightmare’ after transgender custody case — By: Catholic News Agency

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s Lori Windham joins Montse Alvarado, president and COO of EWTN News, and Josh Payne, a lawyer with Campbell Miller Payne, on “EWTN News In Depth” on March 1, 2024. / Credit: “EWTN News In Depth”

CNA Staff, Mar 4, 2024 / 17:15 pm (CNA).

An Indiana Catholic couple is in the grips of a “nightmare” after their son was seized from them when they refused to adhere to his chosen transgender identity, an attorney told EWTN News on Friday.

After Mary and Jeremy Cox didn’t use the pronouns requested by their teenage son when he began to identify as a girl, Indiana Child Services removed their son from his home. The parents sought legal action and their case, M.C. and J.C. v. Indiana, is now being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Despite no evidence of abuse or neglect, the Coxes’ son has not been returned to them. The attorney for the Cox family, Lori Windham, told “EWTN News in Depth” anchor Montse Alvarado the couple is “living every parent’s nightmare.”

Windham, vice president and senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, explained that the Coxes’ son “was removed from their care by state officials even after they investigated for months and found out that these were fit parents.”

“They had not abused or neglected him in any way,” she said of the parents. “[Indiana] still used the disagreement over gender as a reason to keep him out of their home until he turned 18.”

“What’s shocking is the Indiana courts upheld this, and now the Supreme Court is their last stop and their last hope to make sure this doesn’t happen again to others,” she said.

Windham said she hopes the court will “wipe this stain off of Mary and Jeremy’s record.”

“They have other young children at home. They don’t want something like this to happen again,” she said. 

The parents hope the Supreme Court will “send a clear signal to lower courts and to states that you cannot interfere with parental rights, you cannot interfere with religious liberty by removing kids from the home of loving parents just because they disagree over gender,” she said.

Three additional cases related to transgender rights have been appealed to the Supreme Court. In November, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) appealed to the nation’s highest court to block a ban on transgender surgeries for minors in Kentucky. The group also appealed to reverse a similar law in Tennessee. Another appeal asks justices to allow Idaho’s ban on gender transitions for minors to take effect after a lower court judge blocked it earlier this year.

Josh Payne, a lawyer with Campbell Miller Payne, a law firm that helps “detransitioners” sue their doctors for pushing gender transition surgeries, filed a friend-of-the-court amicus brief in the transgender-related Supreme Court case that began in Idaho. 

These detransitioners, who are often minors, believed that gender-affirming care would resolve their gender dysphoria and allow them to live healthy lives but later felt “misled into these procedures,” Payne explained on “EWTN News in Depth.”

Their clients, he said, detransition after they realize “that they were misled into these physical changes to their bodies that did not help their mental health, gender dysphoria problems, but instead simply left them with mental anguish and in many cases, without their natural, healthy bodies and without their body parts.”

They are now “seeking justice,” Payne said, and hoping that others won’t make the same mistakes they did. 

The testimonies, Payne said, “put a face to why these regulations are so necessary and so important in the lower courts.”

Indiana is not the only state where parental rights are under threat, Windham said. 

“California and Washington have both passed laws that authorize state officials to take custody or to refuse to tell a parent where a child is for the purpose of allowing that child to access what they deem ‘gender-affirming care,’” she noted. 

“Other states, like Maine, are considering similar bills,” she added. “What we’ve said all along about the Coxes’ case is that if this can happen in Indiana, this can happen anywhere.” 

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