After a state family court severed Ted Hudacko’s joint custody from his trans-identifying son, the California father was left twisting inside a legal straitjacket while his son underwent a procedure that even violated a California court order protecting the child, a scenario countless parents across the U.S. might face given the state’s commitment to being a “sanctuary state” for underage sex change procedures, he says.
Legal recourse for parents who object to “gender-affirming” care and seek to prevent irreversible bodily harm to their children seems all but impossible in light of systemic changes in California law — of which Hudacko’s is a case study.
The Bay area father told The Christian Post that his plight is a harrowing example of what other parents across the U.S. can expect to happen if their child who’s struggling with gender confusion moves to California.
Last September, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 107 into law. In the Golden State, minors can obtain experimental puberty blockers, opposite-sex hormones, and body-mutilating surgeries, effectively creating what some call a “trans sanctuary” state.
That law, which went into effect in January, amended California’s Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). Changes to the statute permit California state courts to trump the jurisdiction of other states’ courts where the parents might be prosecuted because harming children via chemical or surgical sex-change procedures is prohibited.
States that have passed laws protecting children from trans procedures or where state medical boards have ruled against allowing such experimental practices to be performed on children and teenagers younger than 18 include Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, South Dakota, Mississippi, Utah, Florida, Nebraska, Montana, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Idaho, Kentucky, Iowa, Texas, and Tennessee. Some of these states’ laws are presently being contested in the federal court system.
A handful of other states have introduced similar legislation this year, and the status of those bills remains pending. Concurrently, progressive-leaning states such as Vermont and Minnesota are going in the opposite direction and are either considering or are in the process of enacting laws similar to California’s to become a sanctuary state for trans-sex-change procedures.
What appears to be emerging is an extremely fractious culture war dividing deep-blue and deep-red states on this matter. “Especially if it becomes an intersection with the family court situation,” Hudacko stressed. Family courts, he adds, “are a giant racket.”
Hudacko has not seen his trans-identifying son, Drew (whose name has been changed in this report to protect his identity), for over three years. He retains shared custody of another son — who does not suffer from gender confusion — and has been forced to navigate the complex world of Bar complaints against the attorney who represented Drew to facilitate a hormonal “gender transition” against his father’s wishes.
In 2020, California Superior Court Judge Joni Hiramoto stripped Hudacko of shared custody of Drew following a contentious court battle. His lengthy ordeal was detailed in a 4,800-word investigative piece published in City-Journal in February 2022 by journalist Abigail Shrier, the author of the 2020 book Irreversible Damage. Hiramoto happens to be the mother of a trans-identified child. But it was her appointment of Daniel Severin Harkins — the minor child’s counsel who Hudacko says undermined him at every turn — that was, as Shrier put it, “the final nail in the coffin of his parental rights.”
Documents shared with The Christian Post reveal previously unknown details about Harkins’ identity and his role in the case.
For example, in an Aug. 3 response to Hudacko’s complaint to the California Bar Association, deputy trial counsel Mark Harvey of the California Bar referred to Harkins 17 times using the feminine prefix “Ms” and is repeatedly referred to with female pronouns “she” and “her.” Until then, the Hiramoto-appointed minor child’s counsel had been referred to with male identifiers, and there had been no indication that the lawyer, who is a man, was experiencing gender discordance and himself identified as female.
Harkins did not respond to The Christian Post’s requests for comment.
In response to CP’s questions about the case, the California Bar Association said in an emailed statement that it has “no authority over any local, state or federal courts, or the judges who oversee them” and it “cannot share or confirm any personal details of any licensed attorney other than what is available on their attorney profile, or via any publicly available discipline reports.” The Bar added that it could not find any discipline record for Harkins.
Hudacko now retrospectively wonders if this had been hinted at during a custody hearing in June 2020 when Hiramoto first announced her intention to appoint Harkins as his son’s attorney. Court transcripts show the judge mentioned Harkins’ “transgender experience” and that he had “special training,” but she did not clarify what “experience” or “training” actually meant.
Hudacko, after initial setbacks, requested that the California Bar grant an extension of the investigation period for a good cause pursuant to several provisions outlined in the California Bar’s Rules of Procedure. The response letter from Harvey characterizes Hudacko’s complaint as pertaining to Harkins’ “duty to perform legal services” on his behalf, when Hudacko maintains the crux of his grievance is about code of ethics violations, none of which were ever addressed.
If the California dad’s case is indicative of the prevailing “trans sanctuary state” climate, parents with similar complaints about their minor child’s appointed counsel in the family courts are unlikely to get traction with the California Bar Association. In fact, only a minuscule number of lawyers found guilty of misconduct ever face repercussions, according to state records. Appendix A in the California State Auditor’s Report shows that from January 2010 to November 2021, 221,185 complaints were filed against lawyers for malpractice. Only 2% resulted in disbarment and 2.8% resulted in suspension, 0.2% received public reproval, and 0.1% resigned with charges pending.
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