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Transsexual man loses legal battle for contact with former partner’s autistic daughter (5 June 2015)

Date: 05/06/2015
Duncan Lewis, Child Care Solicitors, Transsexual man loses legal battle for contact with former partner’s autistic daughter

A transsexual man has gone to court for the right to have contact with a nine-year-old girl – the daughter of his former partner, who is a lesbian.

The Daily Mail reports that the child – known only as Alice – was born to a lesbian couple using sperm from a gay male who was also in a same sex relationship.

Her parents separated and she is being brought up by the former partner of her biological mother, because her biological mother has schizophrenia and is living in community-supported accommodation.

Her stepmother’s former partner – a female to male transsexual known in court as Matthew – is seeking contact with the girl, but has no biological relationship with the child. He is now in a relationship with a man.

The child’s parents split up when she was three years’ old, the court heard.

Her biological mother – known as Rachel – was sectioned and her stepmother “Helen” entered a relationship with Matthew, who was at the time female and undergoing gender reassignment treatment to become male.

He now claims that during the four years he lived with Alice and her stepmother, she called him “daddy” and he assumed the role of her stepfather. Although Alice is aware that he was a woman, she has only known him as a man, he told the court.

After the couple separated and dissolved their civil partnership in 2013, however, he had no contact with Alice for a year.

Alice has been diagnosed with autism, the court heard.

After he competed gender reassignment treatment, Matthew then applied to the Family Division of the court for contact with Alice.

Both of Alice’s parents opposed Matthew having contact with the child, however, claiming that during the period Alice had lived under the same roof as Matthew, she had started calling herself Daniel and said she was a boy.

Her biological mother Rachel said that she was worried Matthew had encouraged Alice to wear boys’ clothes – and her stepmother Helen said that Matthew also ensured that she did not play with gender appropriate toys. However, Matthew has denied that he encouraged Alice to call herself Daniel or told her only to play with certain toys. He told the court he had played a “central role” in helping to raise her.

However, Helen added that during the time she had lived with Matthew, he had been “controlling and verbally and mentally abusive”. She said that she did not want Alice to go and stay with Matthew and his new partner James overnight.

The court heard that Matthew has psychiatric issues – and Alice’s stepmother Helen suffers from a personality disorder and also has limited mobility.

The court heard that Alice has contact with both her mothers and her biological father, who acted a sperm donor to Rachel and Helen when they were in a civil partnership.

Deputy High Court Judge Clifford Bellamy said Matthew had applied to the court for permission to ask for an order for contact with Alice – but ruled that, despite the fact that Matthew may have become a “social and psychological parent “ to Alice, his contact application could be “potentially damaging” for an autistic child.

His Honour Judge Bellamy added that such an order would require “months of psychiatric assessments, social services reports and court hearings” – and would be “stressful” for the family.

He refused Matthew’s contact request, saying:

“There is a risk of Matthew’s application disrupting Alice’s life to such an extent that she would be harmed by it.”

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