Mother’s determination that child was “gender variant” did him significant harm – Family Court

1 November 2016 by

Father-and-child-holding--006J (A Minor), Re [2016] EWHC 2430 (Fam) 21 October 2016 – read judgment

These proceedings concerned a care order sought by the local authority in respect of a seven year old boy (J). The judge found that his mother, who had separated from his father within 12 months of J’s birth, had caused her son significant emotional harm by making him live as a girl. The care order sought would allow J to continue to live with his father, in whose care he had flourished.

After the separation J had stayed with his mother. Contact arrangements broke down in 2013, causing the father to apply for a child arrangements order. Contact was consistently opposed by the mother. In 2013 and 2014, various agencies raised concerns with the local authority about the mother’s mental health and the fact that J was presenting as a girl. The mother had claimed that J was “gender variant” and should be allowed to go to school dressed as a girl. Social services were concerned that he was made to wear a pink headband and nail polish. And indeed at a hearing in November 2015, the mother told the court that J was living life entirely as a girl: he dressed like a girl and had been registered with a GP as a girl. She was reported to be considering sending the child to a gender reassignment clinic. As the judge said, when all this was properly analysed it was clear that “flares of concern were being sent from a whole raft of multi disciplinary agencies.

Each was signalling real anxiety in respect of this child’s welfare. Whilst it is, I suppose, conceivable that these referrals were considered individually, it is impossible to draw any inference other than that they were never evaluated collectively.

The local authority, concluded Hayden J, had “consistently failed” to take appropriate intervention where there were strong grounds for believing that a child was at risk of serious emotional harm. It was “striking” that the local authority had moved into wholesale acceptance that J should be regarded as a girl.

Once again, I make no apology for repeating the fact that J was still only 4 years of age.

A year later, at a final hearing concerning J’s care, the judge was struck by the way the mother spoke of her son, only “in the somewhat opaque and convoluted argot of social work and psychology.”

She offered an impressive, intense and highly articulate evaluation of the problems faced by children with gender dysphoria but she conveyed no sense of J’s personality, temperament or enthusiasms, notwithstanding frequently being encouraged to do so. Repeatedly she struck me as a professional witness giving evidence about somebody else’s child.

Subsequent to that hearing, J was removed from his mother’s care and went to live with his father and his partner. He settled down well with his father, and flourished away from the home education provided by his mother. His school reported that there had been no gender issues; indeed he had started showing interest in boys’ games and toys. The evidence now was that he was happy, settled and increasingly secure where he was.

The Court held that the criteria for the making of a care order were met.

Reasoning behind the Court’s decision

The mother had caused J significant emotional harm by her failure to acknowledge J’s right and need to have a relationship with his father. Above all, Hayden J considered that the mother had caused “significant emotional harm” to J in her active determination that he should be a girl:

I find that she has overborne his will and deprived him of his fundamental right to exercise his autonomy in its most basic way. Whether J chooses to present as a girl or not, ought to be his choice. This is not a case about gender dysphoria, rather it is about a mother who has developed a belief structure which she has imposed upon her child.

According to evidence given by a psychologist, the mother had become “enmeshed” with J in that she was unable to distinguish his feelings from her own, rendering her ill-equipped to meet his emotional needs. J should remain with his father. He should be given the maximum support available, buttressed by imposing on the local authority the statutory duties flowing from a care order. The mother should have contact with J, although it should be monitored very carefully.

The judge’s experience in the Family Division left him with little doubt that young children may identify strongly with their opposite gender.

Such children can experience rejection and abuse arising from ignorance both on a personal and institutional level. … It is important that such children are listened to and their views afforded respect but, to my mind, they are ill served by premature labelling. What they require, as F has so capably demonstrated, is the opportunity to develop their identity in which ever way it evolves. J was not only deprived of that space and opportunity by his mother, he was pressed into a gender identification that had far more to do with his mother’s needs and little, if anything, to do with his own.

Transgender equality had received a great deal of attention recently. In this case, the profile and sensitivity of the matters raised by the mother blinded a number of professionals from applying their training, skills and common sense. They failed properly to investigate the mother’s assertions, in part because they did not wish to appear to be challenging an emerging orthodoxy in such a high-profile issue.

Sign up to free human rights updates by email, Facebook, Twitter or RSS

Related posts



  1. stella H Howell says:

    We are who we are from within. Within firstly is through our hormones, depending if we are male or female. There are only two sexes naturally in accordance with the Natural Law of Human Beings.
    Females and males both think differently. Our emotions and strengths are also in accordance to our sex. Our body functions too operate differently. A boy or man remains a man whether his penis has been removed. Similarly a woman remains a woman whether or not a penis is stuck onto her.
    So be it. We cannot change and bring into existance an in between sex which is unnatural, against morals and ethics.

  2. Reply says:

    Where is the child’s voice?

    I see little in way of evidence to support this judgement.

    Identity is individual. It cannot be judged external to the individual as it has here.

    The child would not want to return home if this is the reality.

    In response to the notion of Justice Haydens “experience” he is a newly appointed judge who clearly has made some massive breeches on human rights, already.

    This is in the public interest yet this person has infringed on the mothers basic human right to freedom of speech.

    Why if this decision is correct has this judge gone so far to protect and promote his own agenda.

    This judge is a human rights issue alone. I urge people to check his previous and rather strange orders from other cases.

    Before this judge, “justice” Hayden was appointed in 2013 he was in the top ten highest paid barristers (in legal aid funding) with £400,000 bill for just one year.

    This judgement is flawed and I’m surprised more human rights organisations are not involved.

    Gender is an individual identity. Please see the gender recognition act. Something, the judge clearly ignored.

  3. daveyone1 says:

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

  4. adminpacso says:

    Reblogged this on PACSO – Justice Stuffed!.

Comments are closed.

Welcome to the UKHRB

This blog is run by 1 Crown Office Row barristers' chambers. Subscribe for free updates here. The blog's editorial team is:
Commissioning Editor: Jonathan Metzer
Editorial Team: Rosalind English
Angus McCullough QC David Hart QC
Martin Downs
Jim Duffy

Free email updates

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog for free and receive weekly notifications of new posts by email.




Aarhus Abortion Abu Qatada Abuse Access to justice adoption AI air pollution air travel ALBA Allergy Al Qaeda Amnesty International animal rights Animals Anne Sacoolas anonymity Article 1 Protocol 1 Article 2 article 3 Article 4 article 5 Article 6 Article 8 Article 9 article 10 Article 11 article 13 Article 14 article 263 TFEU Artificial Intelligence Asbestos Assange assisted suicide asylum asylum seekers Australia autism badgers benefits Bill of Rights biotechnology blogging Bloody Sunday brexit Bribery British Waterways Board care homes Catholic Church Catholicism Chagos Islanders Charter of Fundamental Rights child protection Children children's rights China christianity citizenship civil liberties campaigners civil partnerships climate change clinical negligence closed material procedure Coercion Commission on a Bill of Rights common law communications competition confidentiality consent conservation constitution contact order contact tracing contempt of court Control orders Copyright coronavirus coronavirus act 2020 costs costs budgets Court of Protection covid crime criminal law Cybersecurity Damages data protection death penalty defamation DEFRA deportation deprivation of liberty derogations Detention Dignitas diplomacy diplomatic relations disability disclosure Discrimination disease divorce DNA domestic violence duty of care ECHR ECtHR Education election Employment Environment Equality Act Equality Act 2010 Ethiopia EU EU Charter of Fundamental Rights EU costs EU law European Convention on Human Rights European Court of Human Rights European Court of Justice evidence extradition extraordinary rendition Facebook Facial Recognition Family Fatal Accidents Fertility FGM Finance foreign criminals foreign office foreign policy France freedom of assembly Freedom of Expression freedom of information freedom of speech Gay marriage gay rights Gaza Gender genetics Germany Google Grenfell Gun Control hague convention Harry Dunn Health HIV home office Housing HRLA human rights Human Rights Act human rights news Human Rights Watch Huntington's Disease immigration India Indonesia injunction Inquests insurance international law internet inuit Iran Iraq Ireland islam Israel Italy IVF ivory ban Japan joint enterprise judaism judicial review Judicial Review reform Julian Assange jury trial JUSTICE Justice and Security Bill Law Pod UK legal aid legal aid cuts Leveson Inquiry lgbtq liability Libel Liberty Libya lisbon treaty Lithuania local authorities marriage Media and Censorship mental capacity Mental Capacity Act Mental Health military Ministry of Justice modern slavery morocco murder music Muslim nationality national security naturism neuroscience NHS Northern Ireland nuclear challenges nuisance Obituary ouster clauses parental rights parliamentary expenses scandal patents Pensions Personal Injury physician assisted death Piracy Plagiarism planning planning system Poland Police Politics Pope press prison Prisoners prisoner votes Prisons privacy procurement Professional Discipline Property proportionality prosecutions prostituton Protection of Freedoms Bill Protest Public/Private public access public authorities public inquiries quarantine Radicalisation refugee rehabilitation Reith Lectures Religion RightsInfo right to die right to family life Right to Privacy right to swim riots Roma Romania round-up Round Up Royals Russia saudi arabia Scotland secrecy secret justice Secret trials sexual offence shamima begum Sikhism Smoking social media social workers South Africa Spain special advocates Sports Standing starvation statelessness stem cells stop and search Strasbourg super injunctions Supreme Court Supreme Court of Canada surrogacy surveillance sweatshops Syria Tax technology Terrorism The Round Up tort Torture travel treason treaty accession trial by jury TTIP Turkey Twitter UK Ukraine universal credit universal jurisdiction unlawful detention USA US Supreme Court vicarious liability Wales War Crimes Wars Weekly Round-up Welfare Western Sahara Whistleblowing Wikileaks wildlife wind farms WomenInLaw Worboys wrongful birth YearInReview Zimbabwe


This blog is maintained for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a source of legal advice and must not be relied upon as such. Blog posts reflect the views and opinions of their individual authors, not of chambers as a whole.

Our privacy policy can be found on our ‘subscribe’ page or by clicking here.

%d bloggers like this: