Monday, April 30, 2007

Ohio courts just don't get transgender issues

There's been a fair amount of media attention of late (including a New York Times piece last December and a 20/20 special last week) on the question of how parents should deal with their young transgender children -- most particularly, should they permit them to present as the "opposite" gender at home and at school? This coverage has been, on the whole, surprisingly sympathetic to parents who answer "yes."

Although litigation on this issue between warring parents was inevitable, it had not arisen in this country until now. The Family Court of Australia has delivered the most thorough treatment of the issue, in holding that a 13-year-old ward of the state should receive hormone therapy to delay puberty an, in the long term, to facilitate gender transition.

Now, the latest Lesbian/Gay Law Notes reports an Ohio appellate decision affirming the denial of custody to a previously custodial mother because she brought her child to transgender support groups and registered her at school as a child (in contrast to her birth sex). I don't think I can add much to the discussion of the case in Arthur Leonard's lengthy blog post, but this decision -- which stands in contradiction to the balance of expert psychological opinion -- looks like a cry for judicial education. Ohio is, after all, one of the few states that persists in the just-because position that gender is immutable.

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