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What if My Ex and I Disagree About Our Gender-Nonconforming Child? 

 Posted on February 15, 2022 in Family Law

Wheaton Family Law AttorneysAn interesting and complex area of child development has recently gained significant attention in news media and family law: Gender identity in minor children. Every day, it seems that there is new research and information on appropriate parental responses to this challenging situation, and parents often have conflicted or confused feelings about which approach they want to take. 

This can be especially problematic when Illinois parents are divorced and share parental responsibilities. One of the most important areas of parental responsibilities is that of a child’s health care. Because transgender or gender nonconforming children often seek gender-reaffirming treatments like hormone therapy or surgery, parents are confronted with a tough choice about which they may strongly disagree. If you have a child who is struggling with their gender identity, you may want to learn more about how this could impact your parenting strategy. 

What is the Difference Between Gender Nonconforming and Transgender? 

A transgender child often feels strongly that he or she was “born in the wrong body.” They may feel they have stereotypically female personality traits but appear to be phenotypically male. While there is some evidence that many, if not most, children with transgender feelings eventually desist later in life, there is no doubt that the feeling of being in the wrong body can be highly distressing while it persists. 

Gender non-conforming children often feel as though they do not fit neatly into either the male or female gender binary. They may express a desire to appear both male and female, request to be addressed by pronouns other than “he” or “she,” or feel that their identity changes from time to time. 

What If A Child Wants to Transition but Their Parents Disagree? 

The field of child gender transitioning is relatively new and fraught with contention, even among medical professionals. Certain treatments, such as hormone therapy, may be irreversible and have long-lasting consequences, such as fertility issues. Even parents who feel very strongly that they wish to affirm their child’s chosen gender may have concerns about medical transitioning. 

Because gender-affirming hormone treatment and surgery are medical issues, they fall under the purview of parental responsibilities, or the authority to make important decisions on behalf of a minor child. Parents often share these responsibilities and must consult each other before making any major decisions. Children cannot make these decisions by themselves without permission from a parent. 

When parents disagree about issues related to their children, a court can appoint a guardian ad litem to try to determine what is in a child’s best interests. A judge can then give one or both parents the authority to make a decision about the child’s medical transition, or recommend that the parents take a “wait and see” approach to determine whether the child’s feelings of gender dysphoria will eventually desist. 

Call a Wheaton Parental Responsibilities Lawyer

The challenges of having a gender non-conforming or transgender child are often not anticipated by divorcing parents and can be a source of significant confusion and conflict. Having an experienced DuPage County parental responsibilities attorney in your corner while you navigate this complex area of parenting can help you manage your differences with your ex. Call the compassionate and skilled team of family law attorneys at The Stogsdill Law Firm, P.C. today to schedule a confidential consultation at 630-462-9500




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