Application For Contact Withdrawn By Transgender Woman

A transgender woman has given up her five-year family court battle to see her five children.

Following the revelation that the woman, only known as J, had been living as a woman, she had left her close-knit Haredi community in Manchester in 2015.

The Haredi is an insular subset of ultra-Orthodox Jewry, where Jewish laws govern many aspects of daily life, including education, language, culture and even food.

J had married her wife in 2001 as a result of an arranged marriage by her parents, the whole time having to ‘repress her feelings through deep religious devotions’ but had attempted suicide twice due to her unhappiness.

When J finally found the confidence to leave, she was ostracised by the community and receiving threats that her family would also have the same fate if she had contact with them.

Despite understanding the reasons as to why her community had rejected her, J had stated she would accept any conditions to enable contact with her five children, including reverting as far as possibly to her previous male appearance in the early stages.

The wife, known as B, however, argued that threats of the children being shunned and excluded would be “worse than the impact of no relationship” with their father.

Rabbi Andrew Oppenheimer, who spoke in defence of B’s decision, told the court;

“[The Haredim] have traditional values and seek to guard their children and themselves against what they regard as the dangers and excesses of modern open society”.

“The families around them will effectively ostracise them … The impact on the family in such circumstances of social isolation will be devastating.”

In his judgement of the case in January 2017, Mr Justice Peter Jackson, agreed that the “collision of two unconnecting worlds” would be too much for the children in the case:

“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.

“These children are caught between two apparently incompatible ways of living, led by tiny minorities within society at large … In the final analysis, the gulf between these parents – the mother within the ultra-Orthodox community and the father as a transgender person – is too wide for the children to bridge.”

The judgement however was appealed in November 2017, before Sir James Munby, Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Singh, who ordered that there should be a fresh hearing that could reconsider the issues.

Describing the initial case as “stark, deeply saddening and extremely disturbing” and said that it was “unfortunate that the judge did not address head-on the human rights issues and issues of discrimination which arose”.

However, on Monday 20 January 2020, lawyers representing J, in a private hearing in London, told the judge that she had withdrawn her application for allowing contact with her children.

Judge Hayden, described the family as “courageous” and hoped that they could move forward after J had decided that pursuing the application would be “emotionally harmful” to the children.

Want to have your say? Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read more stories

Join nearly 3,000 other family practitioners - Check back daily for all the latest news, views, insights and best practice and sign up to our e-newsletter to receive our weekly round up every Thursday morning. 

You’ll receive the latest updates, analysis, and best practice straight to your inbox.