These parents are like anyone else, whether married, living with partners or single, and whether adopting, giving birth, fostering or step-parenting. Indeed, while the fact that they’re transgender is often what others focus on first, transgender parents are generally more preoccupied with diapers, homework or getting dinner on the table. They are parents first.
Good parenting is good parenting, regardless of gender identity. A common misconception (often exploited in custody disputes) is that transitioning—living and presenting oneself consistent with one’s gender identity in everyday life—is a selfish act rather than a difficult journey that is not embarked upon casually. Transitioning is more accurately understood as a step toward the alignment of a person’s mind and body, and as such can benefit everyone affected, including children. And that’s not to mention the value to children of learning about human diversity and tolerance.
Nonetheless, judges and adoption agencies sometimes try to stop transgender adults from bringing children into their lives and even try to remove them from their homes. Misperceptions and prejudices about transgender people fuel many custody disputes. High emotions are often in play when a cisgender co-parent is unable to accept a transgender parent’s transition and files for divorce. Sometimes an ex-partner questions a transgender parent’s suitability in court in order to try to change a custody arrangement.
Growing knowledge about this issue continues to benefit trans parents’ efforts to protect parent-child relationships, but the courts still have a long way to go
Our FAQ about the rights of transgender parents addresses some basic questions about the issues transgender parents face during custody and visitation disputes. It also offers practical advice and resources for transgender parents and their families seeking to protect themselves against challenges to their parental rights.
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