A transgender woman has been denied direct contact with her five children on the basis they would be shunned by their ultra-Orthodox Jewish community if she were allowed to meet them.
The woman will be allowed only to send letters to her children, after a judge concluded there was a real chance of “the children and their mother being marginalised or excluded by the ultra-Orthodox community” if face-to-face contact were permitted.
Mr. Justice Peter Jackson stated that he had reached the conclusion with “real regret, knowing the pain that it must cause”. The transgender woman – identified only as J – had brought the case seeking to have contact with the children.
As a result of the ruling, her contact with each child will be limited to letters four times a year, with the suggestion that these could be sent to mark three Jewish religious holidays – Pesach, Sukkot and Hanukkah – and the children’s birthdays.
The judge noted his concerns over the clash between the ultra-Orthodox faith and transgender rights, saying: “It is painful to find these vulnerable groups in conflict.”
In his judgment, Jackson wrote: “These children are caught between two apparently incompatible ways of living, led by tiny minorities within society at large. Both minorities enjoy the protection of the law: on the one hand the right of religious freedom, and on the other the right to equal treatment.”
He added: “Despite its antiquity, Jewish law is no more than 3,500 years old, while gender dysphoria will doubtless have existed throughout the 120,000 years that homo sapiens have been on earth. Both sides of the question must therefore receive careful attention.”
According to the court judgment, the woman had fought for contact with her children since leaving the home in 2015, asking that she “should be sensitively reintroduced to the children, who should be helped to understand her new way of life”.
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