Transgender row should be reheard Court of Appeal rules

Family Law|December 21st 2017

The exclusion of a transgender woman from her children’s lives must be reconsidered, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

She left her family and the broader Orthodox Jewish Haredi community in Manchester two years ago after deciding to transition from male to female. Her estranged wife has refused to let the transgender woman see their five children claiming they would be ostracised by their very religious and conservative neighbours if they did so.

The former father offered to be as accommodating as possible during the hoped-for visits with the children, including changing his appearance back to the way it had been before his transition. ‘J’ also said she was not surprised by the community’s rejection of her, given her status as the first known Haredi to come out as transgender in the UK.

“They have to get rid of me – I have sympathy with that”, she said.

At a High Court hearing back in January, the then Mr Justice Peter Jackson ruled in favour of the mother, saying:

“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…”

Therefore, he said, the transgender parent should have no direct contact with her children.

The Haredi exile appealed and Sir James Munby, Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justice Singh concluded yesterday that the earlier Judge “gave up” on the family too easily without even trying to make contact work.

He had not, they declared, properly considered the former’s father’s human rights in his “surprising” judgement, or whether or not exclusion from the children’s lives on the grounds of being transgender had constituted discrimination.

As Mr Justice Peter Jackson has since been promoted to the Court of Appeal himself, becoming a Lord Justice, the family’s “deeply saddening and extremely disturbing” case should be reheard by a different Judge the presiding Justice declared.

A member of J’s legal  team told The Guardian:

“This decision is one that will be welcomed not just by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals living within small religious groups, but by the LGBT community in general.”

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