Document Type


Publication Title

University of Baltimore Law Review


This Article is the first to outline the irrationalities in many new and old parentage laws. Irrationalities often arise when the laws employ gendered terms like mother and father, husband and wife, man and woman, and male and female. These terms require a parent to be gender identified by the state, even when such an identity clashes with the parent’s own gender identification. More importantly, these gendered terms frequently clash with public policies underlying parentage laws, new and old, that are not dependent upon any form of gender identity.

Beyond gender identity, irrationalities also arise when there are distinctions without policy justifications. In the childcare parent context, there are troubling divides between a hold out/residency parent and a de facto parent. Outside of childcare, there are troubling divides in survivorship, heirship, and personal injury claims.

This Article demonstrates the disconnect between gender identity and the policies underlying parentage laws in several contexts. The Article further demonstrates the lack of adequate justification for distinguishing between parents in a single context and in varying contexts, even where the laws are nongendered.

First Page


Last Page


Publication Date

Summer 2022


College of Law



Suggested Citation

Jeffrey A. Parness, Irrationalities in Legal Parentage: Gender Identity and beyond, 51 U. Balt. L. Rev. 353 (2022).

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