Adopting and maintaining cis privilege as someone who is trans
May 12, 2015 12:57 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I are talking about starting a family in a year or two, when we’ve paid off some debt. At this point I'm just beginning to do research and figure out how the process works, but I am curious if my situation will be a stumbling block.

Though I am a trans woman, in everyday life I am perceived as cisgender, which affords me a measure of privilege in that I don’t have to deal with people questioning my sex, or experience the discrimination that many trans people face. All of my ID has been updated, I had GRS a year ago in a different country, my birth certificate has been corrected (changed, not amended), I am married, etc. In the past I would tell my closer friends, though it wasn't a closely guarded secret or anything, but now that I have had surgery and am finally comfortable with my body and my life in general, I feel like it’s just something I went through once and that it no longer has bearing on anything.

It appears that agencies and such do pretty thorough backgrounds checks, which is understandable, but I'm getting less comfortable sharing this info with people anymore. It is totally irrelevant, and I am concerned about possible discrimination in something like adoption, were I to disclose. As far as I can tell, this would really only be available in my medical records (and I did protest that addition, to no avail). Would I need to share these records or is this protected information that would be given only on a voluntary basis, or not given at all (US, Georgia)?

Is this even something worth worrying about? From what I've heard, it's hard enough for cis couples to adopt...
posted by polywomp to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you're concerned about "thorough background checks" causing problems you might consider anonymizing this question.
posted by contraption at 1:05 PM on May 12, 2015 [11 favorites]

Friends of mine (cis, heterosexual married couple) went through a US-based adoption agency for overseas adoption and they both had to hand over their medical records, including medications past and present as well as psychiatric records.
posted by rtha at 1:07 PM on May 12, 2015

International adoption and even private domestic adoption have some big hurdles to overcome. If you're willing, you should check out adoption or foster-to-adopt through the state. They typically aren't as invasive - of course there are criminal background checks, but they usually only require a brief statement or form filled out by your doctor and therapist/psychiatrist stating that you aren't being treated for any issues that would make you unfit to have a child placed in your home. The specifics of what they request of you vary from state to state, but it's a much more manageable (and affordable) option, especially if your primary concern is having a family, and not so much that they look exactly like you.
posted by trivia genius at 1:26 PM on May 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

Some friends of mine just went through this in the US. He is a trans guy and all of the private and international adoption agencies wanted some fairly large medical and psychiatric dossiers. I think he ended up disclosing his trans status fairly early on as it was going to become obvious through the documents they provided, but for various reasons (ethical considerations, timeline, cost, etc.) they ended up becoming foster parents and adopting through the state. That route has its own challenges, and it might not be possible in your state, but it's definitely something to consider.

I'm pretty sure that I've read a a trans parent blog within the last year. The couple had adopted one kid internationally and one through the foster system in their state. I'll try to dig it out for you.

Best of luck!
posted by barnone at 1:42 PM on May 12, 2015

From what I've heard, it's hard enough for cis couples to adopt...

This. I've found that the degree of scrutiny couples receive is proportionate to how "desired' the group of adoptable children is; international is one extreme (especially if you want blonde-haired, blue-eyed infants), and state-fostered sibling groups or developmentally-delayed kids are the other extreme. Best wishes.
posted by resurrexit at 1:56 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, it may be better to contact an adoption attorney to ask this question. They typically handle the "closing" aspect of the adoption--paperwork, hearings, etc.--but in their experience they may be able to provide concrete steps you can take to help your situation here.
posted by resurrexit at 1:57 PM on May 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I work for an agency that adopts to all families. If you're looking for agencies, you're looking for an "All Children All Families" seal from the HRC. They're more common than you'd think. Our agency has adopted to plenty of families like yours.
posted by juniperesque at 2:21 PM on May 12, 2015 [27 favorites]

You will likely have to share this information, as you will have to list "other names used" on forms for criminal background checks. You will also have to disclose medical history like major surgeries. I'd look for an adoption agency that works with LGBTQ couples, and who will be supportive and respectful.
posted by amaire at 2:23 PM on May 12, 2015

Response by poster: I have no surgeries listed in my medical records, as I went to an out of country private clinic, and my name is no issue. I do see an endocrinologist however... It seems like a list of surgeries has nothing to do with a person's ability to be a parent. It's baffling why that's a thing.
posted by polywomp at 2:37 PM on May 12, 2015 [3 favorites]

Well, it's a thing because agencies that place kids want to have a reasonable expectation that adoptive parents will be healthy enough to parent the children placed with them, and are reasonably unlikely to keel over dead in the near future. Not applicable to your particular situation, but something agencies are (understandably, from my perspective-focusing on the right if these kiddos to be reasonably protected from one more loss in their lives) concerned about in general.
posted by purenitrous at 9:13 PM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

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