According to the Human Rights Campaign, legal rights for transgender spouses and parents are often unclear. Transgender people can often be legally married within a heterosexual or same-sex relationship, depending on whether their state recognizes their sex after transitioning. However, the lack of established legal precedents for transgender parents and spouses may leave transgender spouses and parents at risk in many states.
In addition, transgender people are sometimes denied parental rights, contrary to scientific research and professional advice that says transgender people are just as good as their non-transgender peers at parenting. Research collected on transgender parents show that there is no evidence that a parent’s gender identity affects the gender identity of their children, according to The International Journal of Transgenderism (October 1998). The American Psychological Association also has declared that gender identity is not a good determinant of good parenting.
Currently, there is no state law specifically barring transgender individuals from adopting. Unfortunately, adoption is not an easy route for transgender applicants and is fraught with both ignorance and prejudice. According to the American Fertility Association, there are a few things you may wish to try, in order to stack the odds in your favor.
- Reach out to adoption agencies that are known to work with lesbian and gay parents. These are more likely to be open to considering working with families that include a transgender parent.
- You might also wish to have a therapist or a doctor well versed in transgender issues speak on your behalf to the agency. A person perceived with authority who is willing to go to bat for you can help you address any questions or concerns raised by social workers, adoption officials or courts.
- Finally, seek out the counsel of a reproductive attorney who has experience in transgender issues. His or her familiarity with transgender law can make or break your case.
Sources: Building the Family of Our Dreams: A Primer for the LGBT Community Handbook provided by the American Fertility Association, and the HRC website.