American transgender speaker Jessica Lynn held nothing back as she explicitly and emotionally recounted the story of how her transition from a man to a woman led to the termination of her parental rights of her youngest child.
Speaking last week at the University of Limerick as part of the “Gender ARC @ UL” guest lecture series, Jessica told the audience:
“According to the United States government, my child does not have a father because I am who I am.”
An arduous, multi-year legal battle with the Texas court system saw a judge strip Jessica of parental custody for her youngest son despite a California state court granting her full legal and physical custody of all three of her sons just two years earlier.
Born Jeffrey Alan Butterworth in 1965, Lynn knew from as young as four that she wanted to be a girl.
“My mother was a good Christian woman and she taught me that if you prayed hard enough, God would move mountains.
“So every single goddamned night I was on my knees begging God to turn me into a girl but I’d wake up a boy so I said I’d have to pray harder and I would cry myself to sleep every night begging and praying harder to God,” she explained.
Through painting, football or stamp collecting, Jessica attempted to take her mind off the desire to become a woman but the feeling never went away.
In 1982, Jessica came out as transgender for the first time to a girlfriend, Barbara, and despite her desire to help her through her process, the couple were involved in a horrific car accident in which Barbara was killed.
After a dark period of alcoholism and drug use, Jessica somewhat recovered from the event, married another woman and had three sons.
They divorced in 2007 following the collapse of their relationship as she struggled with her desire to become a woman and a judge granted Jessica full custody of her children.
With the support of her ex-wife, Jessica told her two eldest children that she was planning to transition into a woman and they supported her decision.
It was decided between Jessica and her ex-wife that they would wait until their youngest son, Curtis, was twelve to tell him about her transition.
Following her transition, Lynn’s ex-wife then successfully filed for full custody of their youngest son.
Jessica’s countersuit took more than three years but the Texas court terminated her parental rights because of what it deemed her “dangerous lifestyle” and removed her name from the youngest child’s birth certificate.
Jessica became the first biological parent in United States history, with a previously active, supportive role in their child’s life, to be taken off their child’s birth certificate.
Since the loss of her youngest son, she has used her experience to highlight the difficulty that transgender parents face in America’s legal system.
“It’s the butterfly effect. I want every one of you here to tell just one person and that way they’ll tell another and the story will live on.”
The lecture was part of the “Gender ARC @ UL” guest lecture series and was one of approximately six hundred talks that Ms. Lynn has done in eighteen different countries as she establishes herself as the foremost transgender speaker on the subject.