Transgender woman’s fight to see children reaches the Court of Appeal

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A transgender woman’s struggle to see her children has reached the Court of Appeal.

The case concerns a former member of the Orthodox Jewish Haredi community in Manchester. While still living as a man, she had five children with her now estranged wife before leaving to begin a gender transition. Following her departure, the wife insisted that their children would be ostracised by other members of the community if they were allowed contact with their father, despite pleas for a “sensitive” reintroduction.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson (now Lord Justice Peter Jackson) accepted the mother’s argument at a hearing earlier this year, saying:

“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.”

He also observed:

“These children are caught between two apparently incompatible ways of living, led by tiny minorities within society at large … It is painful to find these vulnerable groups in conflict.”

The Judge ordered indirect written contact only. By that point the former father had not seen her children for 18 months.

Her legal team argued in the Court of Appeal this week that the decision to exclude her from the children’s lives was “troubling”.

Family Division President Sir James Munby, Lady Justice Arden, and Lord Justice Singh yesterday heard the case and a ruling is expected soon.

During the hearing, it emerged that the couple had been in an arranged marriage since 2001. The wife only learnt of her husband’s departure from the community by text message, and then of the gender transition via Facebook, a discovery she described as “distressing”.

Image by upygernoz via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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