I became an ally to the transgender community, and hence the entire LGBTQIA community, 25 years ago when I was asked by a friend from New York to represent a transgender woman who needed representation in her Pennsylvania custody case. She had relocated from Pennsylvania, where her ex-wife and children lived, to New York. When her ex-Wife learned she was transitioning, she refused to allow the children to visit on the basis that it was not in the children’s best interest to be a part of such a sinful and unacceptable lifestyle.
During our first phone conversation, with me here and she in New York, which could take place only by landlines during certain times, my client stole my heart with her story. I could not imagine going through what she was going through, not only with regard to her current situation with her kids, but with regard to her whole life trying to be somebody she was not.
I learned that during periods of custody with her boys, she remained Dad outwardly, but over time let it be known she was transitioning. The oldest boy chose to pretend his father had died, but the other just figured this was still his parent who he loved and who he would learn to accept as his second mom.
I was fascinated by the representation and was remarkably interested in learning about transgender. I knew nothing. But, the idea of representing a transgender woman in a custody case in a conservative, Pennsylvania county court was quite daunting. The year was 1993 and transgender was still a very hidden and frowned upon lifestyle, at best. Sadly, just the year before, a local Pennsylvania judge significantly restricted a lesbian mother’s right to see her son solely on the basis that she was a lesbian. 
Fortunately, my client had prepared much research for me and her incredibly competent therapist spent hours meeting with me and educating me more than I could have hoped for. 
I have remained remarkably interested in the transgender community. I ask lots of personal questions of my clients who usually are comfortable telling me things they might not tell someone else. I have attended many seminars on issues facing the community and I understand the overwhelming discrimination and difficulty faced by many. I am happy and proud that as an attorney I can help to make a difference in people’s lives and representing members of the transgender community provides me with that opportunity.
So, it is the night before trial and my client and I are about to speak on the phone for the last time before we get to meet for the first time the following day. We are on the phone when she says, “Ellen, there is something I haven’t told you.” Uh-oh, “What?”, I ask. She says, “This is the first time my ex-wife is going to see me fully transitioned”! “OMG,” I say to her. “What are you going to wear???”
On the morning of the trial, the Judge asked opposing counsel and me to meet him in Chambers. The Judge wanted to understand each of our positions. Opposing counsel, who turned out to be a real stand-up guy, told the Judge there was one child who did not want a relationship and another who did. The Judge said that while he disapproves and doesn’t understand my client, she is a parent, and it is in her one son’s best interest to maintain a relationship. Over the years, the son decided to live primarily in New York near his mom. My client fell in love and is a most happy and content grandmother who is living in Florida with her wife.
 See Blew v Verta, 4420 Pa.Super, 528 (Pa.Super. 1992)
 William Stanton, Ph.D. of the Wayne Counseling Center