While much progress has been made with the development of marriage equality, transgender individuals still face many difficulties when dealing with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.
As a transgender individual, or the parent of a transgender child, it is important to understand the common misconceptions you may encounter when dealing with the Court, opposing counsel, and/or the opposing party. If you decide to seek legal representation, it is also important to make sure your attorney understands these common misunderstandings so that they may effectively represent you. These include:
- You were deceitful by not disclosing your gender identity earlier in the marriage
- You are behaving selfishly by transitioning
- The medical care you sought is cosmetic or elective
- Your transgender child is too young to know their gender identity
- The affirming parent has caused or influenced your child to be transgender
- Your child is not transgender at the non-affirming parent's home [Orr, Asaf. “Families in Transition: Litigating Divorce and Custody Matters Involving a Transgender Spouse, Parent, or Child.” 2016. PowerPoint slides].
Now that you are aware of the misconceptions, it is important to note some of the ways you and your attorney, if you choose legal representation, can address them. These include:
- Using your pleadings as an opportunity to humanize yourself and educate the Court about transgender people
- Raising the issue with the Court of the need for the Court, opposing counsel, and the opposing party to respect your identity before any hearings
- Filing a motion or stating an objection on the record if the Court, opposing counsel, and/or the opposing party are not respectful in order to preserve the issue for appeal
- Being prepared to address hostile attitudes and irrelevant arguments [Orr, Asaf. “Families in Transition: Litigating Divorce and Custody Matters Involving a Transgender Spouse, Parent, or Child.” 2016. PowerPoint slides].
If you are involved in a family law matter as a transgender person, or the parent of a transgender child, Jaime Kissinger at Kissinger Family Law is here to assist you with the challenging issues you may face.