Nov 292012

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A father of three who underwent a sex change operation has won the right to help raise his three girls while living his life as a woman.

The 49-year-old will have equal, shared responsibility for the girls, aged seven, 12 and 17, in all areas, except their education and health, after a 31/2-year custody battle in the Federal Magistrates Court.

The Courier-Mail cannot name the father, but he is referred to as “Ms Parer” in a recently released judgment on the Legal Aid-funded litigation. His former wife appeared without a lawyer.

The girls will live with their mother in her “blended household” after “weathering taunts, jibes and ridicule from peers” about their father’s gender transition.

The decision follows criticism “Ms Parer” introduced the girls to other “transgender persons”, showed them an M-rated feature film about transgender and allowed them to be photographed at the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras family fun day.

According to the judgment, the mother became “concerned” after a photo of the girls appeared in a magazine alongside photos of three male “pole dancers” and “two men kissing”.

In handing down his judgment, Federal Magistrate Joe Harman said the mother had “further concerns” about “inappropriate matters being posted on ‘Ms Parer’s’ facebook page” and “Ms Parer advertising for clients as a sex worker and/or engaging in such work”.

However, there was no further explanation of the allegations given in the judgment, in which Mr Harman praised both parents for doing their best to parent the girls in the “circumstances”.

The parents were married for 12 years after meeting in alcohol and drug rehabilitation.

They split up, the mother remarried and they shared custody while “Ms Parer” lived in a “same-sex” relationship.

Mr Harman declared it “entirely appropriate” for “Ms Parer” to give his eldest daughter a “tin containing condoms”.

The father argued “my gender reassignment is different to my being a parent” and while the two eldest girls refuse to see the father, Mr Harman said he was satisfied “Ms Parer” was capable of caring for the youngest girl, who would eventually stay overnight.

Ainsley Pavey