minor’s life, from educational experiences to mental, social, and physical health. The current legal
environment regarding the rights of the parents of transgender youth will be examined in Section
V through the use of case law and consideration of critical factors that determine custody. This
includes the concept of “parental rights,” the “best interests” principle, and the judge’s discretion
in custody determinations. Finally, Section VI will introduce proposals for change, which includes
both ideas for further research and a recommendation for an accepted practice of approaching
gender dysphoria treatment in domestic relations cases involving custody determinations.
A. Usage of the Term “Transgender” Throughout this Article
“‘Transgender’ is an umbrella term used to describe a person who expresses gender in a
way that does not conform to prevailing societal expectations.”16 Transgender persons identify
themselves in a variety of non-stereotypical manners, such as genderqueer, gender-nonconforming, or pre-operative/post-operative.17 “Not everyone who is transgender has [gender
dysphoria] but . . . those who do have [gender dysphoria] should receive proper and necessary
treatment.”18 Throughout this Article, the term transgender will refer to someone with gender
dysphoria unless indicated otherwise.
B. Social Perceptions of Transgenderism, Particularly Regarding Transgender Minors
Today’s social landscape reflects a culture more willing than ever to support the
transgender population.19 Transgender issues are readily found in the media and most of the
attention has been positive.20 Recently, the Indiana legislature promulgated a controversial
religious objections law that drew mostly negative and widespread criticism from Democrats,
liberal groups, as well as some businesses (such as the NCAA) and high-profile leaders (such as
Hilary Clinton and the CEO of Apple).21 Even the current bill that attempts to repeal most of this
law is still drawing criticism due to the lack of protections for transgender people.22 Transgender
people can be easily found in popular culture and on social media: television programs such as
16 Julie Anne Howe, Transgender Youth, the Non-Medicaid Reimbursable Policy, and Why the New York City
Foster Care System Needs to Change, 2012 THE DUKEMINIER AWARDS 1, 4 (2012).
18 Id. at 5 (Not everyone who feels and/or expresses gender nonconforming attitudes qualifies for a diagnosis of gender
dysphoria. For those diagnosed with gender dysphoria, treatment is crucial.).
19 Susan Scutti, Transgender Youth: Are Puberty-Blocking Drugs An Appropriate Medical Intervention?, MEDICAL
DAILY (June 24, 2013), http://www.medicaldaily.com/transgender-youth-are-puberty-blocking-drugs-appropriate-
medical-intervention-247082 (“Awareness of the condition appears to be increasing because of this greater social
visibility and presumably social acceptance.”).
20 Margaret Talbot, About a Boy, NEW YORKER (Mar. 18, 2012),
21 Brian Slodysko, Panel OKs Gay Rights Bill but Leaves Out Transgender Rights, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (Jan. 27,
2016), http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/indiana-senate-poised-lgbt-rights-bills-36541017; see also Jack
Linshi, What You Need to Know About Indiana’s Controversial Religious Objections Law, TIME (Mar. 29, 2015),
http://time.com/3762656/indiana-religious-objections-law/ (explaining that the religious objections law “prohibits any
state law that would ‘substantially burden’ a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs.”).