Manchester Court Keeps Ex-Haredi Man Now Living As Woman Away From Kids

A father of five who left Manchester’s ultra-Orthodox community in 2015 to start life as a woman was denied access to her children by a court on Monday.

The woman, whose name is being kept under court seal, asked Manchester Family Court that she be “sensitively re-introduced” to her family.

Her former spouse, the children’s mother, countered that the children would be ostracized by their friends and community if they had contact with their parent.

The judge ruled that there was a very real chance that allowing her access to her children a boy aged 12, 8-year-old twins, a boy and girl, a boy aged 5 and a 2-year-old girl could lead to “the children and their mother being marginalized or excluded by the ultra‐Orthodox community.”

Justice Peter Jackson wrote that his ruling was “not a failure to uphold transgender rights, still less a ‘win’ for the community, but the upholding of the rights of the children to have the least harmful outcome in a situation not of their making.”

Before making his decision, Jackson met with the 12-year-old boy, as well as hearing evidence about Jewish law and customs from community members and testimony from the children’s guardian and the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families.

The petitioner asked that her children “be helped to understand her new way of life and allowed to enjoy regular and significant contact with her outside the community.”

The mother countered that “direct contact of any kind during their childhoods… will lead to the children and herself being ostracized by the community to the extent that they may have to leave it.”

The Anna Freud Centre told the judge after psychological assessment of the children and with “evident reluctance that the benefits to the children of resuming contact with their father would be outweighed by the harmful community reaction that would be visited upon the family.”

The petitioner told the court that “the children were told that the reason for her absence was that she was in a mental hospital or that she had died.” The mother denied this, but said that “on professional advice, she told the younger children that their father was in London and not well.”

In his decision, Jackson wrote that “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 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.

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

However, Jackson said that the children could have indirect contact with their father, through letters and cards.

“I see no reason why this should not take place four times a year for each child, perhaps coinciding with their birthdays, and with Pesach, Sukkot and Hanukkah,” he ruled in his judgment.

The judge took a shot at the community, writing that “children are goodhearted and adaptable and, given sensitive support, I am sure that these children could adapt considerably to the changes in their father. The truth is that for the children to see their father would be too much for the adults.”

2 replies
  1. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    A transgender woman has been blocked from seeing her five children after a family court ruled it was not compatible with her ex-wife’s ultra-orthodox Jewish background.

    The landmark ruling, seen by The Independent, was issued by Justice Peter Jackson at the family court in Manchester. It has been handed down after 12 months of the transgender woman asking for access to her five children.

    At the centre of the fight between two parents were claims that the transgender parent, who is living as a woman, should not be allowed direct access to her children after leaving the ultra-orthodox Jewish community.

    This is because, barristers acting for the mother argued, it would lead to her children being ostracised by their ultra-orthodox community and unable to live normal lives due to their association with a transgender parent. However, Orthodox Jewish rabbis acting for the parent argued that Judaism did not believe transgender individuals should be punished in this way.

    Despite that, Justice Jackson concluded that the “risk” that “these children and their mother would be rejected by their community if the children were to have face-to-face contact with their father” was too great to allow direct contact.

    “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.

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

    He added: “I reject the bald proposition that seeing the father would be too much for the children. Children are goodhearted and adaptable and, given sensitive support, I am sure that these children could adapt considerably to the changes in their father. The truth is that for the children to see their father would be too much for the adults.”

    The parent is instead allowed to indirectly contact her children four times a year via letters on festivals and on their birthdays.

    The parent had claimed she was subject to domestic abuse by her ex-wife but that had been denied.

    Richy Thompson, campaigns manager at the British Humanist Association told The Independent the decision was “extremely sad” given the progress made towards equal rights for transgender people. “At a time when society is progressing towards having much more inclusive attitudes towards trans people and their fundamental rights, it is extremely sad that a religious community can hold such discriminatory attitudes, and threaten to ostracise children over a parent’s gender identity, that we might even end up with a family court judge entertaining a ruling like this one,” he said.

    The case highlighted the difficulties faced by religious communities like ultra-orthodox Jewish Charedis if they encounter modern influences. Charedi communities adhere to a strict 19th-century interpretation of Judaism and contact with the secular world can be taboo.

  2. Joe Levin
    Joe Levin says:

    A court in Manchester, England on Monday ruled that haredi children do not have meet their father who recently ceased being observant and underwent a sex change operation.

    The man, who has five children and left the haredi community in 2015, petitioned the court to force his wife to allow him to meet with his children.

    In court, the mother claimed that if the children meet their father, who did something so socially unacceptable, they will lose their friends and their social standing in school. She also claimed their education would be harmed.

    Judge Peter Jackson met with the divorced couple’s 12-year-old son, as well as with businessmen and psychologists within Manchester’s haredi community. All of these said meeting the father would cause irreversible damage to the children.

    The father claimed he wanted to tell his children why he had chosen to make such a drastic life change, but the mother insisted it was better to tell the children their father had died or had been hospitalized in a psychiatric ward. However, the mother denied this, and said she had told her children their father had moved to London.

    Judge Jackson ruled the potential social damage to the children was greater than the benefits the children would reap from a strong connection with their father. He therefore exempted both the children and the mother from maintaining contact with the father. However, the judge did suggest the children and father send letters and postcards to each other.

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