After a year and seven months of bueracutric difficulties, the Interior Ministry recognized two biological fathers of child for the first time, Ynet learned on Sunday.
The story of the Yuval and Matan Topper-Erez received wide media coverage when Yuval became the first Israeli transgender man to get pregnant and give birth. In December 2011, the groundbreaking journey of Yuval and his partner came to a successful end when Yuval gave birth to their eldest son and the two became happy parents.
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However, the Interior Ministry refused to be impressed by the occassion, and would not recognize Matan as the child’s biological father as well.
“As parents are used to doing, we asked to register our son with the Interior Ministry at the ministry stand at the hospital where our oldest son was born," Matan told Ynet. "We filled out the forms, and according to the procedure, left the information page of our IDs, so that they could be updated by listing both of us as the child's parents," he recalled.
Topper-Erez family: two fathers and son
Usually within a short time of not more than two weeks, a newborn and his parents are recorded on the birth certificate and in the population registry, but this unique case delayed registration.
The Interior Ministry refused to recognize Matan as the biological father of the child and list him as such. "The registration got hung up, the information pages we had left were not returned to us and we heard nothing from the Interior Ministry. It was only after turning to the Immigration Authority several times that they said that there was a problem and they recorded only Yuval as the biological father of our child,” Matan recalled.
"The Interior Ministry refused or were unable to register me as the father of our child, that is, to list two male biological parents," he said.
Hearing: The father is in actuality the mother?
The couple's efforts to solve this issue encountered, according to Matan, “an unmovable wall.”
Only after a year and the intervention of attorney Dana Sapir Hen, they were invited to a hearing at the offices of the Immigration Authority. "From the outset it was not clear to me why the Interior Ministry chose to call this procedure a 'hearing,’ as if we broke the law by having a child. However, at the same time, officials from the ministry asked probing questions and tried to undermine the very process of sex change Yuval had gone through, and in fact wanted to register Yuval as female."
The couple came from ‘hearing’ hurt and embarrassed. "It was amazing that the state, through the Interior Ministry was basically telling us this whole process you went through is simply not true for us," explained Matan.
For half a year after the hearing, and despite repeated requests of the couple, the Interior Ministry denied their request. "Throughout this process, we were the victim of a typical bureaucratic stupidity, made up of lack of respect and sensitivity to the fact that there are a variety of ways and identities through which to express yourself," he added.
Finally, Interior Ministry officials recorded the two fathers as the child's parents, and listed them in the population registry as well, but the breakthrough came only after the couple went directly to the Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar and to the chairman of the Knesset Interior Committee MK Miri Regev, via the Likud’s “Pride” faction.
According to faction chairman Dr. Evan Cohen, "Even in the face of this achievement, the major struggle is for public awareness. Though it was a major advance in our rights as a community, there is still a long way ahead of us." Regev, who assisted in pushing the recognition through, added that she was happy that “the child born to the couple was recorded in the population registry and prevented from experiencing future harm.”
This is a precedent setting action, although in the past the State had recognized same-sex couples as parents to children. But according to experts in family law, there had never been a same-sex couple both registered as a child’s biological parents.
Until this point, when a same sex couple was the parents of a newborn, it was usually registered through use of an adoption order.
"The solution was finally obtained by changing the gender of Yuval to female, registering Yuval as a parent to the child in the records, and finally changing Yuval’s gender back to male in Interior Ministry records. "It's not an ideal solution, "said Yuval to Ynet, “but for now the important fact is that the child appears in our records, so we accept it."
The Immigration Authority has not responded to requests for a comment.
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