Skip to comments.Transsexual wins child custody when judge rules him to be male
Posted on 02/22/2003 4:55:20 AM PST by Prov1322
In a ruling that boosts the legal status of people who undergo sex-change operations, a Pinellas County judge on Friday awarded custody of two children to a male transsexual who was born a woman 44 years ago. In his exhaustive, 809-page ruling, Pinellas Circuit Judge Gerard O'Brien found that Michael Kantaras' sex-change operation in 1986 legally made him a male, the rightful father and most suitable custodial parent of the two children he was raising with his estranged wife, Linda.
(Excerpt) Read more at orlandosentinel.com ...
Transsexual wins child custody when judge rules him to be male
By Maya Bell | Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted February 22, 2003
In a ruling that boosts the legal status of people who undergo sex-change operations, a Pinellas County judge on Friday awarded custody of two children to a male transsexual who was born a woman 44 years ago.
In his exhaustive, 809-page ruling, Pinellas Circuit Judge Gerard O'Brien found that Michael Kantaras' sex-change operation in 1986 legally made him a male, the rightful father and most suitable custodial parent of the two children he was raising with his estranged wife, Linda.
His order, issued in Clearwater, awarded custody of Mathew, 14, and Irina, 11, to Michael Kantaras with "liberal visitation rights" to their mother. The children have been living with their father for the past six months.
Although trial-court opinions are not binding on other judges, some legal experts predicted the lengthy order, the first based on extensive medical testimony about gender and transsexualism, will be closely scrutinized by other courts.
"It's a trailblazing decision which I think other courts will have to pay attention to," said Matthew Coles, director of the gay and lesbian project at the American Civil Liberties Union in New York.
"There have only been a handful of cases in which the courts have grappled with this question: If a person is born one gender and changes to another, what is the legal effect? None have been this thorough."
In the final divorce decree in Kantaras v. Kantaras, Judge O'Brien ruled that, although Michael Kantaras was born female, he is now indeed a man, making his marriage to Linda legal.
That was key because, through her attorney, Linda Kantaras had argued that her 14-year marriage was invalid because she had married a woman, a legal impossibility in Florida. As do many states, Florida forbids same-sex marriages.
"This is an amazing decision, because the judge has overlooked the fact that he's a transsexual and looked at the best interests of the children," said Lynne Gold-Bikin, former chairwoman of the American Bar Association's family-law section.
"Every state decides their own cases, but let me tell you, this is going to be used in other states," she said. "This is a major victory for alternate lifestyles."
Religious conservatives criticized the ruling. Mathew Staver, general counsel for the Liberty Council, a Longwood-based group that promotes religious freedom through the courts, called the decision dangerous and illogical.
"It opens up Pandora's box for individuals to legally change their gender by having certain medical procedures, and I believe it would certainly undermine marriage laws," he said.
A bakery manager in a Sam's Club in Pinellas County, Michael Kantaras was born Margo Kantaras in 1959, but, according to his lawyer, always felt like a boy trapped inside a girl's body.
In 1986, he underwent a sex-change operation in Texas, and married his wife three years later, adopting her son.
At the time they married, she knew her husband had been born female.
Soon after, the couple had a daughter, whom Linda conceived with donated sperm and artificial insemination.
Kantaras v. Kantaras may be the first transgender case of its kind in the nation, and it is the first in Florida.
Courts in Texas and Kansas have ruled other transgender marriages invalid after finding the couples were the same sex. Courts in New Jersey and California have found the opposite. None, however, has dealt with the custody of children in a divorce.
Michael Kantaras' lawyer, Collin Vause of Clearwater, said his client's case was the first to present extensive medical testimony on what decides a person's gender.
Three expert witnesses testified that people such as Michael Kantaras are defined as males in the medical community because they do not have female reproductive organs or produce female hormones.
"Medicine is way ahead of law when it comes to transsexualism, but in this case the judge caught Florida up in one swoop," Vause said.
"His decision is in line with the latest medical knowledge on this issue -- that gender should not be determined by chromosomes or anatomy. There's a lot more to it than that, including self-identity."
In his ruling, O'Brien, a retired judge who presided over a three-week trial last year, acknowledged that "the marriage law of Florida clearly provides that marriage shall take place between one man and one woman."
But he noted "it does not provide when such status of being a man or woman shall be determined."
Neither Linda Kantaras, nor her attorney Claudia Wheeler, could be reached for comment on Friday. They had previously said they would appeal if they lost the case.
Vause said he and Michael Kantaras was elated.
"Michael is thrilled and relieved," Vause said.
"He faced the prospect of having his parental rights terminated, and he's known them from Day One. He's a great dad."
The Patiens are now running the Asylum
His decision is in line with the latest medical knowledge on this issue -- that gender should not be determined by chromosomes or anatomy..
Truly bizarre. Science contradicts itself. So, following this reasoning, I don't know for sure what gender I am, because chromosomes or anatomy don't matter. May a murderer challenge the prosecution and say "you can't even tell whether the body is a man or a woman...." This judge is clearly lost in the law.
By undergoing mutilations for whatever the reason -- and I certainly am not advocating outlawing plastic surgery -- does not change a person from a female to a male. We have to face it that we can't be everything we want to be.
I'm sure many feel they are a young person trapped in an old body (or a rich person trapped in a poor man's body). We can do things to look younger. But we can't change our age.
This is not the fault of the Court, it is the fault of the State legislature. The court will have to make a ruling of some kind when matters like this are placed before it and there is no legislative law to follow. As the article states " In his ruling, O'Brien, a retired judge who presided over a three-week trial last year, acknowledged that "the marriage law of Florida clearly provides that marriage shall take place between one man and one woman." But he noted "it does not provide when such status of being a man or woman shall be determined."".
Why don't the various state legislatures have foresight and the guts to address these issues?
It never ceases to amaze me that the medical industry has accepted mutilation as "treatment" for a psychiatric disorder.
Well, the person who said that, also said about gender, "There's a lot more to it than that, including self-identity." . So I figure if your chromosomes, anatomy, and self-identity all line up on the same side, you can be fairly sure of what you are.
There was an interesting documentary I saw last year (on The Learning Channel or one of those types of cable stations) about sex differences in such things as spatial perception, reflexes, language ability, and such like. Among other things, the documentary followed a person undergoing a female-to-male conversion, including hormone replacement. While a she, the person didn't believe these differences existed. However, as the procedures continued, the person's ability shifted in a more "male" direction.
So I guess a person can be made artificially male or female. Whether or not this is a good idea, I don't know. But it does put a crimp in the arguments of those feminists who think there is no essential difference between male and female.
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