The complexity of transgender family law issues has been highlighted in a recent case in a New York family court involving transgender co-parenting, where it was ruled that transgender fathers may adopt children that they consider “theirs”, in order to shore up their parenthood status in circumstances where transgender identity is not consistently recognised across all American states or indeed internationally.
As in Australian states, under New York state law, the husband of a woman who gives birth during a marriage is automatically considered to be the child’s dad. But transgender fathers in New York had become concerned that their status as legal parents may not be recognised if they travelled or moved outside of their state. In many US states and many countries, the fathers’ male gender identity would not be legally recognised and then, without an adoption decree, their parenthood status could be in jeopardy. The transgender dads were also concerned about what would happen if their wives died, including risking a custody challenge in a different state. The Judicial Hearing Officer in the matter said: