Earlier this week, the world was introduced to Caitlyn Jenner. Jenner, who was formerly known to the world as famed Olympic athlete, Bruce Jenner, has shined a spotlight on the many issues and challenges faced by transgender men and women.
Jenner, who is age 65, is also a parent and his two youngest children are still in their teens. Jenner and ex-wife Kris Jenner were married for 22 years and recently finalized their divorce. While Jenner’s fame and wealth make her specific situation somewhat unique, her decision to undergo sex reassignment procedures raise questions about transgender parents and child custody.
Later this summer, a Sixth Circuit court case will convene during which matters related to “the custody and visitation rights of transgender parents and their children,” will be discussed and decided upon. As with all child custody decisions, judges must attempt to weigh parental rights against what’s believed to be in a child’s best interest. In cases where a non-transgender parent disapproves of his or her ex-spouse’s decision to undergo a gender change, to avoid conflict and confusion, a judge may limit a transgendered parent’s rights to custody and visitation.
In state that don’t allow or recognize same-sex marriage, the matter becomes even more complicated in cases where a transgendered parent’s gender change means that he or she is now the same sex as an ex or soon-to-be ex-spouse.
The Sixth Circuit court’s decision this summer will help determine whether or not “a transgendered person will be treated by the law as of a different sex than the co-parent” or as “the same sex as the co-parent.” Depending on how the court rules, laws governing the child custody and visitation practices of either heterosexual or same-sex parents will apply.
Source: Main Street, “Transgender Parents Face Uphill Battle For Child Custody and Visitation in Court,” Juliette Fairley, May 20, 2015