Resolving Parental Disputes Over a Child’s Gender Identity
Parents disagree, often vehemently, on many aspects of how a child should be raised, from what church or school the child should attend to what sports they should play. But such issues, as important as they may be, pale in comparison to a child’s gender. What happens when parents have opposing views on how a child should identify?
That question caused a bitter custody dispute last year in Texas, when two estranged parents fought over their 7-year-old child’s gender identity in court. The child was male at birth and named James. In 2016, when the parents’ marriage was annulled, the mother, Anne Georgulas, alleged that the child self-identified as a girl and now went by the name Luna. The father, Jeff Younger, said the child was a boy and had been manipulated by Anne to falsely identify as a girl. A battle ensued over which parent should have custody.
Younger went so far as to set up an elaborate website about the issue, through which he sold “Save James” t- shirts and asked for donations for his legal fees. The site also claimed that Anne wanted the child to be chemically castrated and undergo gender reassignment surgery. Younger raised $139,000 before the site was taken down by court order. Younger also took the case to the media, saying it was “more important for the public to know what’s going on with the court than to have my child live a private life.”
A jury eventually awarded sole custody to Anne, but that decision was quickly altered by Judge Kim Cooks, who awarded both parents joint custody. In her ruling the judge observed that the father “finds comfort in public controversy and attention surrounded by the use of unfounded facts and is thus motivated by financial gain … at the cost of the protection and privacy of his children.”
This case illustrates how current law is simply not yet equipped to address gender identity issues as a whole, let alone the specific intersection between legal custody and the best interests of a young child with gender dysphoria. Family courts have no choice but to address gender identity issues and gender quality deficiencies on the individual facts as more cases are brought to the courts’ attention.
Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C., can help you if you are a parent struggling with a transgender child custody issue. We approach this topic with sensitivity and respect and we will do everything we can to protect your rights. If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys, please call 1.631.479.3839 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. We serve Nassau County, Suffolk County and all of Long Island.