Gender issues are at the forefront of much of the collective American consciousness as transgender activists continually push for understanding and equal rights under the law. Unfortunately, the parents of transgender minors are now facing new threats in the legal system — often in the form of accusations of child abuse simply because they affirm and support their child’s gender identity.
As this issue has become intertwined with a number of political battles, the situation for supportive parents of transgender kids has gotten worse. Many of them face accusations of child abuse and unfair investigation into their parenting based on narrow or restrictive beliefs surrounding gender identity.
All too often, the abuse accusations are coming from the child’s other parent, but they gain ground in court very easily. In Arizona, for example, a family court judge immediately put a temporary injunction in place forbidding the supportive mother of a trans girl from “pushing a female gender identification” on her child — to the point where she was forbidden from buying her child any “female-oriented” toys, like dolls. Those temporary orders remained in place for at least two years while the parents fought for custody — the father ultimately winning because he didn’t support his child’s identity.
Texas has also seen a similar issue in a case that has gained national attention and has become a lightning rod for anti-trans sentiment in politics. A young Dallas child who identifies as female was the focus of a bitter custody fight between a supportive mother and a father who claimed the whole thing was just a perverse desire of the mother’s to have a girl. In that case, the judge ultimately gave both parents joint decision-making power over the child — but the judge did feel compelled to upbraid the father for his attention-seeking.
Yet, lawmakers have called for investigations into the mother by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services based on “public reports” of abuse that are largely drawn from the father’s own fundraising website.
If you have a trans child, you may expect your child’s gender identity to become a focus of any custody battle, so do some early strategizing with your legal representation.