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Filial Impiety

State of the Union: Washington State “protects” trans-identifying children from their parents.

(Ink Drop/Shutterstock)

The Washington House of Representatives passed a bill last week allowing youth-services providers to decline to inform parents of runaway children that the children received "gender affirming treatment" or "reproductive health care services" while away from home. The state already requires insurers to cover so-called "gender affirming treatments" and forbids them from informing parents when children receive "gender affirming care." It is the latest effort to "liberate" transgender-identifying children from "non-affirming" parents.

LGBT activists are not the first to think some things are more important than the parent-child bond. The late Italian theologian Fr. Antonio Ballerini said children who are called to enter a monastery or convent and are opposed by their parents should defy their parents' orders and enter religious life anyway. "If...there should be danger of the parents unjustly hindering the fulfillment of their children’s vocation," Ballerini said, "they may and ought to go without their parent’s knowledge." To Ballerini, a child's God-given vocation took priority over obedience to his parents. If the child was made to choose, he was to prefer God's will to his family's.

LGBT activists and Washington legislators agree with Ballerini that a child's right to achieve his purpose takes precedence over his natural obligation to obey his parents. They differ, though, in their conception of a child's purpose.

For Ballerini, a child was created to love and serve God. In loving and serving God, a child found his "real" self and his purpose. If that entailed entering the monastery, parents had no right to intervene.

For LGBT activists, a child's highest purpose is to be autonomous. Because transgenderism involves a maximalist conception of autonomy—the transgender person has liberated himself not only from traditional sources of authority but seemingly from nature and biology—activists consider it vital that a child be allowed to pursue that identity in defiance of his parents. As Washington demonstrates, they are willing to use the state to enable him to do so.