Imagine if this were your nightmare.
Daniel and Cindy are young parents whose world has been turned upside down because Daniel is transgender. He transitioned over a decade ago when he was 19, and few people know that he is transgender. When Daniel and Cindy decided to have children, they told Cindy’s parents that Daniel is transgender because they were conceiving in vitro with donated sperm. And, I suppose, they must also have trusted that her parents would continue to accept their son-in-law.
This was a mistake.
Cindy gave birth to healthy twins 2 ½ years ago, and Daniel and Cindy and the twins have been very happy – except for one problem. Cindy’s parents make rude comments about Daniel being transgender, and they do it in front of the twins. Requests for them to stop are met with mirth. Daniel and Cindy put up with this behavior for a long while, but as the twins are getting older, they worry that the negative comments are harmful, and they don’t want to be forced to try and explain concepts to their young children that are beyond their ability or need to understand – in vitro, transgender.
Daniel and Cindy made the difficult decision that the grandparents are no longer welcome in their lives. The grandparents got angry and sued for custody of the children. The twins have two loving parents. Child Protective Services have never been called; there have been no police reports of abuse; neither parent has a criminal record.
Last week, a court removed the twins from their home and gave custody to the grandparents. The reason? Their father is transgender.
Daniel and Cindy are working with a lawyer to try and get their children back. Will they get them back? Who knows? What we do know that the children have pulled out of their home and are living with two people who demean and ridicule their father.
And if they do get the children back, their lives will never be the same. Everyone in town either knows or soon will know that Daniel is transgender, and he will likely lose his job. If the children are gone too long, they may not trust their parents when they return. Daniel and Cindy will either spend savings or go into debt to pay legal fees. And they go to bed every night distraught because their children are not with them. They don’t know if their children are crying for them, but surely their children must be confused.
This isn’t a story made up as an example of what might happento someone who is transgender. This is really happening to a young couple and their twins. I’ve changed the names because the case hasn’t hit the news, so perhaps the family will be able to maintain some privacy.
The take away? While it may not be discrimination for the grandparents to be hateful to their son-in-law; it certainly is discriminatory for the Court to make a custody decision based on the father’s transgender status. Transgender non-discrimination laws would give these parents and their children better legal protections to be a family free from government interference. Also, if Courts are permitted to take children from otherwise good parents because one parent is transgender, who’s next?
Support the passage of anti-discrimination legislation in support of transgender people, whoever you are, wherever you live.