Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Epilogue (in small part) to a transgender parent case

Earlier this week I wrote about transgender parents.  In one of the cases, from 1986, a father, Tim Daly, transitioned (and took a new name, Suzanne Daly) and subsequently lost all parental rights upon the petition of the child's mother.  It is a tragic case.  (You can read it here.)

With these older cases, I always wonder how things turned out for the family.  Sometimes the courts use only initials or pseudonyms, in which case it's impossible to look.  But in this internet information age, I do try to find former parties to the cases and their children.  The Daly opinion used real names.  The child's name was Mary Toews Daly.  She was 12 years old.  My internet search did not uncover her. But it did lead me to an obituary for her grandmother, Mary Maxine Daly.  Mary Maxine was the mother of Mary's father, Tim, who transitioned and and changed his name to Suzanne in December 1982.

So here is a sad fact.  Mary Maxine was 96 when she died, in 2006.  Her death notice contains the following:  "She was predeceased by two sons, Timothy Daly and Patric Sean Daly..."  So almost 25 years after her transition, Suzanne Daly's family could not/would not acknowledge that she had existed.  The child in the case, Mary Toews Daly, turns 40 this year.  She is named as the granddaughter of the deceased.  In the 1986 opinion the court noted that she could rekindle the relationship with her father as an adult.  I started out my search hoping to find out that she did, and interested in finding out how she looks back on the time when the court, at the urging of her mother and with her consent, stripped her father of the right to be her parent.

I didn't get a definitive answer to that question.  But if she had any hand in writing the death notice for her grandmother, it looks like no reconciliation took place.  If it had, I would think her father would be listed by the legally correct name, Suzanne.  If the deceased, the elder Mary, had accepted her son's transition, I would expect the death notice to refer to her "two children, Suzanne Daly and Patric Sean Daly."  I'm sad it didn't.

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