New York father loses legal battle to stop his son, 8, from taking puberty blockers to change gender

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Dennis Hannon was denied medical authority over his eight-year-old son
  • He learned about his son’s possible transition via a letter calling him ‘Ruby’
  • READ MORE: Family lost custody of their daughter, 14, after refusing transition

New York family court officials have denied a father the legal right to stop his eight-year-old son taking life-changing hormones that would begin his medical transition to a girl.

Dennis Hannon, 32, a senior software engineer from Buffalo, has been locked in a ‘nightmare’ legal battle with Erie Supreme Court spanning seven years, fighting to retain his fundamental parental rights.

He claims that the boy’s mother ‘pushed’ their child’s transition, and says the boy himself was not distressed about living as a boy.

What’s more, a year after the court’s ruling, the young child, Matthew*, reverted back to his original male gender and is now ‘a regular little boy.’

However, the father has lost any say in medical decisions about his son and sees him for just a few hours every week.

He cannot afford to appeal to regain full custody.

Matthew aged three, as a boy. His parents had split up but his father, Dennis Hannon, saw him every week

Matthew in kindergarten, when he was referred to as 'Ruby Rose'

Matthew now, aged nine, identifying as a boy, aligned with his gender at birth

Matthew in kindergarten, when he was referred to as ‘Ruby Rose’. Matthew now, aged nine, identifying as a boy, aligned with his gender at birth

‘It’s been a nightmare,’ Mr Hannon told DailyMail.com. ‘It’s completely destroyed my life.’ 

It comes days after DailyMail.com revealed that a Montana family had lost custody of their 14-year-old daughter after refusing to let her transition to a boy.

Child Protective Services (CPS) turned up at the family’s home in Glasgow and later determined that their daughter, who suffered mental health difficulties, needed to transition to ‘get better’.

She was sent to a mental health institute where she was allowed to live as a boy called Leo, shave her head and wear a chest binder.

Mr Hannon claimed his ex-wife began dressing his son in girl’s clothes when he turned three, in 2017 – two years after he had split from his child’s mother.

Mr Hannon saw his son twice a week and every other weekend, while his ex-partner had custody for the remainder of the time. 

‘When I was picking him up, he was a boy named Matthew*,’ he said. 

‘And I didn’t realize that when he was in his mom’s care, he was actually a girl named Ruby.’

In 2019, mother sent him to a ‘transgender affirming’ therapist and sought puberty blockers to stop the production of male hormones, according to court documents seen by DailyMail.com

But Mr Hannon only discovered this information in 2020, when he took his ex-wife to court to find out what had been going on.

And a year before that, Mr Hannon had received a letter from his son’s kindergarten addressed to ‘the parent or guardian of Ruby Rose Hannon’ –  which used she/her pronouns.

‘I thought they had mailed it to the wrong address,’ he said.

‘I was the last to know [about the transition]. He was on the fast track to puberty blockers.’

No official diagnosis of gender dysphoria was ever made by medical professionals.

This is the condition experts refer to when person expresses a sense of unease  because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity. This distress or dissatisfaction may be so intense it can lead to depression and anxiety and have a harmful impact on daily life.

Dennis Hannon claims that his son was 'fast tracked' to puberty blockers for several years - despite eventually feeling comfortable in his gender assigned at birth

Dennis Hannon claims that his son was ‘fast tracked’ to puberty blockers for several years – despite eventually feeling comfortable in his gender assigned at birth

Now, following last year’s court ruling, Mr Hannon has only visitation rights, no joint custody or medical authority, meaning he has no say in any medical decisions.

He gets his son every other weekend and for a few hours in the week.

By age nine, Matthew was no longer identifying or dressing as a girl. 

Gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors is available in New York, unlike other states. 

What’s more, the city enables those travelling from other states where it is banned to access it.

Social transitioning, such as changing a child’s name and appearance, remains a gray area of the law.

In 2020, a court order was issued for Matthew to be enrolled in counselling with a mental health counsellor in Buffalo, New York.

‘Even though he never had a diagnosis, I was court ordered to take him to a gender therapist that didn’t accept insurance. It was $145 out of pocket every week,’ Mr Hannon said.

‘He went there for a year and a half. And there was still no diagnosis of gender dysphoria… If I refused, they would say that I was interfering with essential medical treatment, and they would remove my custody.’

Mr Hannon decided he had had enough, and terminated the child’s counselling.

Matthew (center) at a holiday pageant, aged four, dressed as a girl

Matthew (center) at a holiday pageant, aged four, dressed as a girl

When Mr Hannon requested his son be discharged, the therapist wrote to the courts, and he lost medical authority of Matthew.

His ex-partner then sought treatment for Matthew with Ms Andrea Binner, a self-described ‘transgender affirming’ therapist.

Ms Binner had also referred Matthew to a pediatrician called Dr Tran Ngoc. 

‘Over a 45 minute phone call with the mother only, Dr Ngoc said my son sounded like he persisted with gender dysphoria and they recommended the potential for puberty blockers when he was nine,’ Mr Hannon said.

In February 2020, Mr Hannon’s ex partner filed an Enforcement of Custody Petition, used when a co-parent is not following a custody order.

The petition referred to Matthew using ‘they/their’ pronouns.

‘Since approximately Matthew’s third birthday… They have expressed, unprovoked, that They are a girl,’ it said.

‘Over the past four years, Matthew has been insistent, consistent and persistent that They are a girl.’

In Mr Hannon’s response, he said this was ‘a delusion that the defendant is trying to force on our son.’

Over the seven years, the court process has cost Mr Hannon $150,000. 

‘I spent every dime of my retirement,’ he said. He was also ordered to pay his ex-wife’s attorney fees.

Mr Hannon said while he is desperate to regain custody of his son, he cannot afford the appeals process.

As for the effect on Matthew, ‘it’s been awful,’ Mr Hannon said.

‘He uses a Chromebook for school and he has access to his previous grades, and there are things that pop up with the name Ruby on it still… that’s something he’s going to have to live with. It’s been hard on him.’

Mr Hannon said: ‘It’s very clear to me that it was all about pushing a narrative. Nobody wanted to question the agenda, or even question whether or not somebody actually had gender dysphoria, it was just, because she said that he was confused about his gender, it must be true.’

When looking for therapists for Matthew, Mr Hannon said his ex-wife ‘would get an answer that she didn’t want to hear from one therapist, and she shopped around until she found the answer that she wanted to hear – somebody that would work with her to socially transition and ultimately, physically transition my son.’

Now, Mr Hannon said: ‘My son is a regular little boy, he goes by Matthew. His mother still tries to influence him by using they/them pronouns, and still calls him B, which is short for Ruby.’

‘It was very difficult for him in school because… one year he was a girl named Ruby, wearing dresses and makeup and the hair. 

‘Then the next year, he’s a boy named Matthew. Kids in school will ask him, “Weren’t you a girl?” That’s hard for a child.

‘At three years old, how can he identify as a girl? He never showed any indication to me at all.

‘I was looked at as just a conservative who didn’t want to accept my son’s gender.

‘I could very easily be passed off as a bigot for wanting to simply question why and understand how they came to this conclusion or how they could. It was totally weaponized against me.’

*Names have been changed to protect privacy. 

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