‘Gender Neutral’ stories have been hitting the press frequently in recent months with schools in particular becoming increasingly involved in recognising the importance of the child’s wishes and feelings in respect of this. It is argued that a child should not have to label themselves as a particular gender and the community around them should also not place the general stereotypes in respect to certain genders.
The case of J was before the court due to the father’s application for contact with his son. Contact had broken down in 2013 and the mother opposed any contact to take place, one of the issues being that she claimed that the father was temperamentally and in principle averse, to allowing his son to ‘present as a girl’ and resistant to recognising his ‘gender variance’.
The Local Authority were instructed to carry out an investigation and it was ultimately found that the mother had caused emotional harm to the child by insisting that he recognised himself as a girl. There was no evidence to suggest that the child had chosen this belief and he in fact had been pressured by his mother to do so. A care order was made, with the child being placed with the father.
It is an extreme case however it does show the importance of how parents cope with their children’s gender identity and that their own views should not influence the child’s thoughts. This does show that there is a need for schools and other authority’s to be extremely careful with dealing with a child’s identity and to ensure that the decision is always the child’s own.
I am concerned with J, a 7 year old boy. His parents F (Father) aged 40 years and M (Mother) aged 34 years, were in a relationship together which began in 2007. The parties separated, as best I have been able to establish, within 12 months of J's birth. Following the parties separation, which was acrimonious, the parents were nonetheless able to make some arrangements for J to have contact with F. He lived with M.....