Divorcing Transgender Parents and Legal Access to Children

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2011 National LGBT Conference
8 August 2011
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that it was only a few decades ago that Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) men and women were deemed inappropriate and unfit parents. When divorcing from their opposite sex spouse, many were refused custody of their children simply because of their sexual orientation. Direct discrimination by care professionals, such as social workers and family mediation, and judges were common-place which resulted in highly restricted, limited or no legal access to the LGB individual’s children.

Conference regrets that this is still the case for many separating or divorcing transgender parents , refused custody or even access to their children for no other reason than that they are transgender. Continuing access is especially important at a confusing time for children. The opportunity for the transgender parent to explain their gender dysphoria is denied.

Conference believes that although some children and family care organisations and family courts claim to be aware of “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) equality”, on closer inspection, policies, procedures and case studies presented may include LGB issues but do NOT represent any trans equality issues.

Conference affirms that in all cases of access to and custody of children, the needs of the children are paramount. Conference is deeply concerned that children are losing out when an assessment of their best interest is clouded by transphobia.

Conference calls on the National LGBT Committee to campaign to raise awareness and reduce the institutional ignorance and transphobia currently widespread among too many care and court organisations. It is important to work with organisations such as Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Services), MoJ (Ministry of Justice), College of Social Work, CQC (Care Quality Commission) and the General Social Care Council and the equivalent bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to promote good practice and eradicate discrimination against transgender parents.