Mom of trans girl held at Christian hospital heads to court to fight for custody

Dawn Ennis

An Illinois mother and father are bracing for a combative family court hearing in Chicago to fight for custody of a five-year-old transgender girl named Stevie.

She was named Stephen at birth, and according to friends of the family, she suffers from both epilepsy and type 1 diabetes. The Illinois Department of Children and Families told LGBTQ Nation the agency is seeking protective “temporary custody due to medical issues unrelated to LGBTQ concerns.”

The girl remains hospitalized, a month after she was admitted to Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn by her parents for therapeutic separation, at the request of the hospital, for independent evaluation of her medical conditions. A hospital spokeswoman declined to comment and referred all questions to DCFS.

Friends of her parents say they’re convinced this case is really about the faith-based hospital — and now DCFS — refusing to accept that Stevie is trans. DCFS spokeswoman Veronica Resa denied that accusation in an interview Monday.

On Sunday, a friend of the parents accused hospital staff of trying to force this trans child to admit she’s really a boy. And now another friend of Stevie’s mom has come forward with shocking new details of what the mother is accused of doing.

Both the friend and Stevie’s parents’ names are being withheld by LGBTQ Nation to protect the privacy of the family, which includes another child, a pre-teen son from a prior relationship. That boy, according to the parents’ friend, has consistently identified as a male, but in his younger days his parents gave him a play kitchen, a toy shopping cart, and a green girl’s bike, each of which is being labeled “a girl’s toy.”

The bicycle in particular was chosen by Stevie’s older brother because it had a picture of a starfish that reminded him of “Patrick” from Spongebob Squarepants. 

Those along with other items are expected to be introduced as evidence by the Department of Children and Families, that Stevie’s mom attempted to change her oldest son’s gender from male to female, unsuccessfully, according to the friend. Obviously, giving a boy a doll or shopping cart is not an attempt to change a child’s gender identity.

The friend also claims she learned that under pressure from hospital staff, Stevie finally did buckle and admit at one point she is really a boy — but then cried for her mommy. When her mother finally was permitted an opportunity to see her daughter last week, another friend, Kathy Blazer-Williams — herself the mom of a transgender child — wrote on Facebook that the child declared several times “My name is Stevie!”

Since DCFS insists its case is solely based on Stevie’s medical care, LGBTQ Nation asked the anonymous friend to explain what Stevie’s mom is accused of doing wrong. Could this be, as some have speculated, a case of factitious disorder imposed on another, commonly known as Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy? In this disorder, a person — typically the mother of a child — acts as if an individual he or she is caring for has a physical or mental illness when the person is not really sick.

Both Stevie’s mom and dad recently have undergone a psychological evaluation of their mental health, and passed, according to the anonymous friend, who claims to have personal knowledge of the family’s health,  and accompanied both the parents and Stevie to doctor appointments. She said the fact remains that the girl is hospitalized and not placed in foster care, Stevie is in fact ill, with chronic conditions that arose without outside influence: Type 1 diabetes, for example, is characterized by the body’s inability to produce insulin; epilepsy can be either congenital or the result of brain damage that occurs after birth.

Stevie was ordered by Dr. Vidhya Viswanathan at Advocate Children’s Hospital, also known as Hope Hospital, to have a feeding tube surgically implanted to deliver fluids and medicine, according to the friend, who claims Stevie’s mother has been accused of “making” the surgeons perform this operation. She’s also been accused of ordering a port be installed in the treatment of her daughter’s diabetes, which the friend says was recommended by Dr. Enzo Garcia at that same hospital where Stevie is being held; that surgery never happened. Neither pediatrician responded to requests for comment by press time.

The parents’ friend said two hospital employees reached out privately to offer their help in refuting the accusations but, according to the friend, each backed off, saying they were threatened with termination if they cooperated with Stevie’s mom.

The friend says both mom and dad have no criminal records, no prior involvement with DCFS, no other children, and no history of drug use or alcohol abuse.

Tuesday’s hearing at Cook County Family Court is closed to the news media but LGBTQ Nation will have more information as it becomes available.

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