The generally positive public response to the transformation of Caitlyn Jenner may embolden others who identify as a gender other that assigned to them at birth to begin a new life.
However, those who are married may not face the same acceptance when they decide to change genders. The spouse may feel betrayed or deceived, or may have religious objections to an individual choosing to switch genders.
Unfortunately, if the non-transgendered spouse decides to divorce, the transgendered individual may face additional hurdles in pursuing custody or even visitation rights with their children.
The problems facing transgendered parents seeking custody or visitation rights
While public opinion may be slowly accepting transgender rights, discrimination still exists. Laws protecting the rights of transgendered individuals are not consistent from state to state.
Family law is no exception. Custody and visitation rights may rely solely on the opinions of a family court judge who may sincerely believe that the children may face psychological damage or social repercussions from the transition of their transgendered parent.
How can a transgendered parent seek child custody or visitation rights?
It is up to the parent, with the help of a family law attorney, to provide evidence of the parental involvement of the individual before their transformation. This is not much different than a usual custody or visitation case, although there may be some open or hidden bias that must be overcome by the transgendered parent.
If the individual was the primary caretaker or an equal caretaker of the child or children before the switch, and they intend to seek full or joint custody, they must be able to provide proof of their involvement.
Proof should include evidence of social interaction with the child or children, involvement in school activities, and other evidence of parenting before the transformation.
What the transgendered parent should avoid
The focus of the custody or visitation fight should be on the children. While it may be unfair, the transgender parent must limit their social activities, especially social media use, until the case is decided.
The fact that one parent has switched genders should be minimized as much as possible, because it is actually not relevant to the individual's parenting skills.
While it is exhilarating and liberating to finally be the gender the parent has self-identified as, dress and mannerisms should be understated when appearing in court. The transformation should appear as inconsequential and irrelevant.
While this may seem unfair, prejudice and fear will take time to eradicate, and the transgendered parent must do what is necessary to secure access to their children, which is the mark of a good parent of any gender.
For more information about family law and related topics, contact a professional like Thomas & Associates, PC.
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