How Unjust Family Laws Are Keeping LGBT Parents Away From Their Children

Allison’s story is so heartbreaking. Her ex-wife is doing more damage to those two children than anything Allison has gone through. Sure her son lost a father, but by Allison being cut off from his life completely, he has no one to fill in. And having a father figure isn’t a dire necessity. There are plenty of heterosexual single women who raise sons with no issues. I hope somehow Allison’s ex sees the light and knows the damage she’s doing before the kids turn on her.

Last week, Allison Woolbert saw her children for the first time in two and a half years. Her daughter made two paintings for her to mark the occasion: One said, “This is the Day,” and the other said, “I Love You.”

Woolbert, a transgender woman in New Jersey who transitioned several years ago, was overjoyed seeing her daughter and son again, now 12 and 15 years old. But she missed out on a lot of important time during their adolescence, as did they.

“I was married for 13 years, as a man, to a woman,” Woolbert said. By the end of the relationship, she was deeply depressed and suicidal. Woolbert had been seeing a therapist for five years, but remained completely closeted about having gender dysphoria, a condition marked by identification with a different gender than the one assigned at birth.

With regard to making the decision to transition, “I don’t think people know the pain,” Woolbert said. “I didn’t want to transition. I did everything I could to avoid it for 45 years.”

Woolbert was afraid when she came out to her wife. She feared losing her family, her means of employment, and her kids, whom she described as being “everything” to her. A technology professional who was unemployed at the time, she was afraid people wouldn’t hire her or be willing to do business with her.

Her wife told Woolbert that she wasn’t a lesbian and that she refused to live in the house with another woman. “She said she didn’t want to be my friend. She said, ‘Here’s what’s going to happen: You’re going to go back to work, and you’re going to forget about this transition…or you’re going to move out, and I am going to take everything.”

It was a terrible ultimatum. But, Woolbert said, “There comes a time to make a decision, and mine was, ‘Do I continue living [as a woman], in the hopes my children will understand me some day, or do I not continue living at all, which will only hurt my children and increase their chances of suicide someday?’”

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