Transgender woman may not see haredi children, British court rules

(JTA) – A transgender woman in England may not see her haredi Orthodox children, a British high court ruled.

The woman, who left a haredi community in Manchester, had made the request to see her five children, whom she fathered when she was living as a man.

“I have reached the unwelcome conclusion that the likelihood of the children and their mother being marginalized 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,” Justice Peter Jackson of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales wrote in his decision, which was made public Monday.

“I therefore conclude with real regret, knowing the pain that it must cause, that the father’s application for direct contact must be refused.”

The transgender woman is allowed to indirectly contact the children four times a year on Jewish festivals and their birthdays.

In the yearlong case, the identity of the family has remained anonymous, the London-based Independent newspaper reported.

The transgender woman, who left the family two years ago, is considering hormone therapy and surgery, according to the Jewish Chronicle. She reportedly believes she is the first transgender person to have left a U.K. haredi community.

Jackson said in his decision that the children’s mother had said that her spouse “expressed being unhappy in his body” during their marriage, but she “thought it was a religious crisis, not a gender issue,” according to the Jewish Chronicle.

The mother had said in court that if the children had direct contact with the transgender woman, the parent body of their schools would not allow other children to play with them, and she was backed by the testimony of several community rabbis. The children could also be denied places at good yeshivas and schools, be prevented from marrying into some families, and the entire family could be shunned by the community, the court was told.

The judge also wrote that his decision was not “a failure to uphold transgender rights … but the upholding of the rights of the children to have the least harmful outcome in a situation not of their making.”

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