Transgender Foster Youth: A Forced Identity, Christine L. Olson, 19 TEX. J. WOMEN and L. 25 (2009)

Research and Journal Articles

This journal article examines applicable state, federal, and case law and analyzes the constitutional concerns that arise out of forced gender conformity for transgender youth in foster care. The author argues, with the support of some case law, that "forcing a gender identity on transgender foster youth can cause severe emotional and psychological harm and is a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. ... In addition, requiring gender conformity violates the Due Process Clause because such treatment unjustifiably infringes on an important liberty interest and because such treatment harms youth in violation of a state's duty to protect youth in its custody." The article also offers recommendations for state and federal laws and state agency policies on how to appropriately, and legally, handle transgender youth who are a disproportionate percentage of youth in state care.

While clothing and physical appearance are the main focus of the article, the author's arguments are applicable to all aspects of gender expression, including walking, talking, choice of romantic partner, and medical care. The author supplements her legal analysis with experiences she had while a caseworker Green Chimneys, a group foster home specifically designed to be a safe place for LGBT youth in New York City.

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