Transgender woman ‘can’t see children’ court rules

family life

A transgender woman should not be allowed to see her children, a family court judge has ruled, because her status could lead to ostracism by an Orthodox Jewish community.

The male-to-female transgender woman is thought to be the first to leave the Haredi community following her transition. Haredim  (also spelled Charedim) make up a loosely affiliated branch of orthodox Judaism. She had five children with her estranged wife and after leaving the community spent months trying to see them.

But the wife resisted her efforts, arguing via her counsel in court that if her former spouse was allowed contact with the children they would be ostracised by their friends and neighbours. Orthodox rabbis spoke for the former husband, meanwhile, insisting that Judaism had no such teaching about transgender people.

Despite this, Mr Justice Peter Jackson felt the risk was still too great to allow ‘direct’ (face to face) contact between the children and the transgender parent.

He wrote:

“Weighing up the profound consequences for the children’s welfare of ordering or not ordering direct contact with their father, I have reached the unwelcome conclusion that the likelihood of the children and their mother being marginalised or excluded by the ultra-orthodox community is so real, and the consequences so great, that this one factor, despite its many disadvantages, must prevail over the many advantages of contact.”

However, the Judge went on to explain that he believed the children would adapt to their father’s new life, with support, because children in general are “goodhearted and adaptable”.

“The truth is that for the children to see their father would be too much for the adults”.

The transgender parent was instead to be restricted to writing the children letters four times a year.

Read the full ruling here.

Photo by Jean-François Chénier via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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6 comments

keith - January 31, 2017 at 2:15pm

i would strongly say this is a violation of human rights towards this unfortunate parent and it should not be allowed. its nothing less than a form of discrimination.
and id like to state im a straight father of 3 children myself.

Mehul Desai - January 31, 2017 at 8:18pm

I think Justice Peter Jackson seriously let down the side this time. I hold him in high regard and would have expected a much more creative solution from him rather than resort to the most extreme end of the spectrum, effectively precluding any future meaningful relationship. Given she had even suggested to meet children dressed as a man. This is where perhaps regular Skype/text contact would have been appropriate and seen how things go from there onward. I can see a backlash from the LGBT Community on this case.

A lot of parents who seem to think they are acting in the best interests, most likely are not. Thing is we all know the paramountcy principle is indeterminate and virtually anything can be snuck into the balance because it is easy to rephrase any issue as having a potential impact on the child/ren and make it a live issue. Really sad with this outcome.

Dianne Skoll - January 31, 2017 at 8:24pm

I would say this violates the human rights of the *children*. There is nothing worse than children being denied access to a loving parent. How a secular democracy like the UK can bend to primitive and backward religious dogma boggles the mind.

Mehul Desai - February 1, 2017 at 10:45am

It’s shocking indeed, however entirely lawful because the Article 8 convention right can be justified by Art 8 (1), this is where the Section 1 checklist kicks in, those factors in consideration become the justification for the interference of the right of both the parent and the child, therefore as long as its justified in the name of welfare the decision would likely be seen as compatible. Proportional, perhaps given the justification, she was given indirect contact so this is where balancing comes in and prima facie it looks like that exercise took place. However, if JPJ had justified the decision because the father was Transgender then there would be a clear violation of multiple convention rights. All in the name of welfare ey, I still think it was a covert discrimination act smuggling in factors to come to a decision to preclude meaningful contact. I hope this decision is appealed and heard by the president himself, Sir Munby.

penny greenhough - February 6, 2017 at 10:14pm

I am very reassured to hear of this decision. it must have been incredibly difficult and uncomfortable decision to make in the context of the current trans – zeitgeist.
i do not belong to such a community. however, i do know what it is to lose a partner to transgenderism and i do understand and acknowledge the very serious harm autogynephilia wreaks within a previously ostensibly stable marriage, or the risk of further harm if it allowed to continue. if this man was truly a transexual, then he shouldnt have had children in the first place by misrepresenting himself as a suitable husband and father. 5 children arent accidents. he deliberately set about using his wifes sexual and reproductive labour, took advantage of her financial support and chose to walk away. the older child he inappropriately engaged in his secret lifestyle does not want to ever see him again. the younger children who are unaware of his autogynephilia just want their daddy back. i can vouch for that. been there. done that. the wife is the one who has to explain to them why daddy is never coming back and try to answer their questions about why its more important for daddy to pretend he is a woman than to stay with them and be their daddy. (because children arent stupid – they know full well their daddy isnt a woman and so do all their peers) its always the wife who gets left with the consequences isnt it? what would these men know of the consequences? they are too self regarding and self-interested to consider anyones POV but their own. funny how theres tons of support out there for the men who do this but none in secular culture for the women and children who also endure a lifetime of consequences through no fault of their own – the fallout is horrendous. and to anyone who tries to tell me they will commit suicide if they cant be a woman i say you have a mental illness which should ethically exclude you from transition until you are well again.

penny greenhough - February 6, 2017 at 10:30pm

The thing is, either a person like this has been struggling all his life or he hasnt.. they either entered a marriage knowingly or they didnt. People married for decades with many children dont suddenly wake up transgender overnight … do they..? well if they have truly been suffering all their lives where is the evidence? if the stereotypical performance of gender is truly considered female by wider society, why arent they held responsible for their actions in the same way women are?

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