Your child has always marched to the beat of their own drum, and they’re increasingly disinterested in conforming to any kind of gender rules. Maybe your little boy likes to wear dresses and play with dolls. Maybe your little girl has gone from a “tomboy” to a teenager who is proudly nonbinary.

Whatever the situation, one thing is clear: This is shaping up to be a big issue with your ex-spouse. What do you do now? They say it’s “your fault” that your child isn’t conforming to the gender description on their birth certificate.

Texas has a fairly complicated and conservative history when it comes to gender issues and custody. A 2019 custody case over a transgender child became a rallying cry for conservative voices who declared the mother’s support of her child’s gender identity to be akin to child abuse. Whether your child ultimately identifies as nonbinary, transgender or just gender-nonconformative, here are some suggestions that can help:

  1. Keep a journal. If you are ever required to testify in court due to a custody issue for your child, you may need to refer to it so you can explain exactly how your child’s gender identity developed. Keep a record of any events or conversations that may be relevant.
  2. Affirm but don’t encourage your child’s gender identity. A lack of affirmation and support can be disastrous to the nonbinary child and lead to depression and possibly suicide in some extreme cases. Do not push your child to behave or dress in any particular fashion.
  3. Enlist professional support. Make sure that you discuss the issue with your child’s pediatrician. If the doctor recommends counseling for your child, get it. You want to show that you have your child’s best interests at heart at all times.

Finally, if your ex-spouse is issuing ultimatums, threats or generally seems to be gearing up to for  a custody battle because of your perceived “failings,” get an experienced attorney on your side. Don’t wait until the custody papers are filed to start protecting your relationship with your child and your child’s future.