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School Helped Autistic Girl Become Transgender over Parents’ Wishes, Dad Says

  • Michael Foust Crosswalk Headlines Contributor
  • Updated Aug 14, 2019
School Helped Autistic Girl Become Transgender over Parents’ Wishes, Dad Says

A Chicago-area father says his daughter’s school undermined his parental rights by helping her become transgender, even though she is autistic and has “mental health challenges” that may have contributed to her desires. 

Jay Keck’s daughter attended a school in Hinsdale District #86 in suburban Chicago and only began having desires to be a boy after befriending another transgender classmate.

“Throughout my daughter’s childhood, there were no signs that she wanted to be a boy,” Keck wrote in a USA Today column. “She loved stuffed animals, Pocahontas and wearing colorful bathing suits. I can’t recall a single interest that seemed unusually masculine or any evidence that she was uncomfortable as a girl.”

But she had trouble making friends, and eventually was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. At the age of 14, she became friends with a transgender schoolmate.  

“Shortly after meeting her, my daughter declared that she, too, was a boy trapped in a girl’s body and picked out a new masculine name,” Keck wrote. “She first came out as transgender to her school, and when she announced that she was a boy, the faculty and staff -- who had full knowledge of her mental health challenges – affirmed her. Without telling me or my wife, they referred to her by her new name. They treated my daughter as if she were a boy, using male pronouns and giving her access to a gender-neutral restroom.”

Keck assumed that the school’s teachers and administrators would understand his concerns and help his daughter get help. Yet they opposed him at every step, he says. 

In a meeting “just after she told us about being a boy, I told the school that our wishes are to call her by her legal name at all times,” Keck wrote. “The social worker present at the meeting stated that we have that right to make that request, so I assumed school staff would follow our directive. I followed up that meeting with an email, but later learned that my request was ignored and school staff continued to refer to her by the male name.”

School officials claimed their hands were tied by an Obama-era rule saying that said schools needed to affirm transgender students. The ACLU, he learned, also was threatening schools with lawsuits if they didn’t follow a child’s lead on gender identity. Further, he wrote, the National Education Association “has partnered with the Human Rights Campaign and other groups to produce materials advocating automatic affirmation of identities, name changes and pronouns, regardless of parents’ concerns.”

A school-approved psychologist told Keck “it was very clear that our daughter’s sudden transgender identity was driven by her underlying mental health conditions.” But the psychologist “would only share his thoughts off the record because he feared the potential backlash he would receive,” Keck wrote. 

Keck lost his battle. 

“Through all this, I’ve learned that I’m not alone,” he wrote. “Many parents just like my wife and me are often afraid to speak out because we are told we are transphobic bigots, simply because we do not believe our children were born into the wrong bodies. When our daughter returned to high school to finish her senior year, I contacted the principal to let him know I expected her legal name to be used at graduation. Once again, the school refused to honor my request.”

Because of the school’s position, Keck’s daughter “is more convinced than ever that she is a boy, and that testosterone may be necessary for her to become her authentic self.”

“She turned 18 in late June and life-altering, dangerous testosterone injections are just one ‘informed consent form’ away,” Keck wrote. “She can turn to anyone of Illinois’s 17 Planned Parenthood clinics for cheap and easy access. No extensive mental health assessment will be required, and there will be nothing I can do to stop her.”


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Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog,

Photo courtesy: Cecilie Johnsen/Unsplash