Opening arguments began Thursday in a Cook County, Ill., circuit court in a custody battle between a woman and her ex-husband, who is transgendered. The mother of a 10-year-old Chicago boy is seeking permanent custody, claiming that the transgendered man she married has no parental rights because the marriage was illegal. The mother's attorney claims that the state's ban on same-sex unions means that her partner was never the boy's legal father. The father visits the boy every other weekend and one night on off weeks. The mother wants to keep it that way, but the father wants to be appointed custodial parent.
The couple, whose identities were withheld for the child's protection, married in 1985 without disclosing that the groom had been born a woman and undergone hormone therapy but still had female genitals. The mother became pregnant through artificial insemination. "There simply is no marriage to dissolve," attorney Burt Hochberg argued. "A transgendered individual has no standing to pursue custody."
Cook County public guardian Patrick Murphy, representing the child, said gender and marriage are irrelevant to a boy who accepts and loves his father as a parent. "It doesn't matter if he's male or female, husband or wife," Murphy said. "The only thing that is important is that there's a 10-year-old who considers this man his dad and wants to live with him."