A Family Court judge has determined that a father’s refusal to conform with traditional gender norms left his three children “confused” and encouraged them to “question their gender identity” after they all began identifying as non-binary, ruling the two youngest children will not be permitted to see their father for an extended period.
The matter regarded the breakdown of a 20-year relationship between a mother and a father, who identifies as male but occasionally wears gender non-conforming clothes, including a dress to his middle child’s first day of school.
Justice Kylie Beckhouse earlier this month ruled the two youngest children, known pseudonymously as Riley, 8, and Taylor, 13, will not be allowed to see their father for the next four months, after which period they will spend time with him on Sundays.
In making the orders, Justice Beckhouse said the father’s “right to self-expression is not a reflection or criticism of his parenting capacity”.
“However,” she continued, “it is possible that raising the children without adopting societal gender norms and expectations has led them to be confused and question their gender identity.”
The case comes as the Family Court continues to grapple with the complexities of gender identity, especially in the context of children, medication and surgery.
Last month, the mother of a 13-year-old with gender dysphoria abruptly withdrew an application seeking a Family Court order to allow the child to take puberty blockers, after trying to have the independent children’s lawyer assigned to the matter thrown off the case.
In May, Family Court judges were presented with a legal paper from a top barrister arguing the court must reassess how scientific advancements should apply to the family law system.