Advocating for Custody of Transgender Children in California

This past Pride Month, the debate about transgender issues was once again in the news. As many states introduce bills to criminalize certain forms of gender-affirming care or restrict the rights of trans people, California stands out as a state dedicated to protecting trans rights.

Still, it is a scary time to be the parent of a trans child, especially if you’re facing a custody struggle with a less supportive co-parent. Here’s what you need to know about the roadblocks you may face campaigning for custody of your trans kid, how California supports you, and what you can do to protect your child from your unsupportive or transphobic co-parent.

Potential Custody Issues Facing Parents of Transgender Children

There are two major issues you may face as you try to attain custody of your trans kid: a transphobic co-parent and unsupportive judges. Suppose your co-parent doesn’t “believe in” your child’s gender identity. In that case, they will likely work against you to prevent your kid from presenting as their preferred gender or receiving gender-affirming care.

You may also struggle if you face an unsupportive judge. Judges who are biased against transgender people may believe that blocking your child’s transition and refusing you custody is in the child’s best interest, making your campaign harder.

California Precedent for Protecting Trans Children in Custody Disputes

Despite these issues, California does have precedent for protecting transgender minors’ rights in custody disputes. Earlier this year, a much-publicized case occurred when a father lost custody of his transgender daughter after trying to block her from receiving gender-affirming care. Judge Joni Hiramoto assigned the daughter minor’s counsel, who determined the father failed to support her needs, and in response, Judge Hiramoto awarded full custody to the child’s supportive mother.

Soon, precedent may become actual law. Senate Bill 107, co-authored by Senator Scott Wiener and Assemblywoman Lori Wilson, has passed the committee in the Senate. The bill would block subpoenas from other states criminalizing gender-affirming care for minors and prevent enforcement of extradition warrants for care unjustly labeled a crime. While the bill hasn’t yet passed, it demonstrates California legislators’ intentions to protect parents and trans children alike.

How to Protect Your Trans Child

Your kid deserves to express their gender. You may need to campaign for full custody if their other parent isn’t supportive. There are two critical ways that you can improve your odds during your work to protect your transgender child:

  • Request your child receive minor’s counsel: Judge Hiramoto’s decision was made after assigning the trans girl minor’s counsel. Making sure your child has minor’s counsel that’s experienced in transgender issues gives them a voice in court that will stand up for their unique needs.
  • Work with a family law attorney who cares: You can also work with experienced legal counsel. Finding a family law attorney experienced in LGTBQ+ concerns can help you build your case and argue for your child’s well-being.

Give Your Child the Gift of a Supportive Environment

If your co-parent wants to prevent your kid from expressing their gender, you may face a difficult legal campaign. The right legal counsel can make all the difference. Working with expert, LGBTQ+-friendly family lawyers like the team at ADZ Law, LLP, can help you make your case and campaign for full custody of your transgender children. Call (650) 458-2300 for your confidential or contact us today to learn how we can help you.