Report: Haredi Orthodox daughter of transgender woman shunned by classmates

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The daughter of a transgender woman in Manchester, England, is being shunned by her classmates at a haredi Orthodox school after being ordered to by their teachers.

The classmates were told not to communicate with the girl “in any way,” the regional newspaper the Jewish Telegraph reported. The students wrote her a letter telling her that if they see her they will have to ignore her but “that they would always love her and that they would pray for her,” according to the report.

A British high court judge ruled late last month that the transgender woman, who is the father of the girl and four other young children, may not have direct contact with the children.

“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.

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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 remained anonymous, the London-based Independent newspaper reported.

The children’s 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.”

Jackson has written to the U.K.’s top education official, warning that social banishment of trans people’s children in strict Jewish schools may be illegal, The Independent reported.

“There is, to say the least, evidence that the practices within the [ultra-Orthodox Jewish] community, and in particular its schools, amount to unlawful discrimination against and victimization of the father and the children because of the father’s transgender status,” he wrote.

Religious bigotry is illegal in the U.K. All schools must promote tolerance, inclusion and respect for people who are LGBTQ, and cannot refuse admission to children on the basis of whether they or a family member is LGBTQ, the LGBQ Nation, news website reported.

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