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Mother’s determination that child was “gender variant” caused him significant harm.

Date posted: 16 February 2017

Ayisha Akamo, a family team caseworker who joined us in October 2016, makes observations about a recent case concerning a mother’s harmful determination to establish that her child was transgender. In Re J (A minor)[2016] EWHC 2430 (Fam), a boy was removed from his mother’s care as she had been causing him to live life “entirely as a girl”. The mother informed various agencies and professionals that the child was transgender.

The parents of the 7-year-old boy separated when he was a year old. Since separation the boy resided with his mother, and had contact with his father.  This arrangement broke down in 2013, and the father subsequently applied to the court for a child arrangements order. The mother opposed contact claiming that the father abused alcohol, had been violent towards her and that he was resistant to the child’s gender variance. The court directed the local authority to investigate.


During these investigations, those working with the family readily accepted the mother’s instruction that the child should be treated as a girl.


As a result of the mother’s failure to co-operate in the private law proceedings and address the Local Authorities’ concerns for the welfare of the child, the case was transferred to the High Court and care proceedings were initiated. The matter came before Sir Justice Hayden who was satisfied that the threshold criteria had been met on the basis that the mother had caused the child significant emotional harm.


To ensure maximum support was offered to the father, the court made a care order in favour of the Local Authority, and placed the child with his father.


It has been reported that in his father’s care the child was given the choice of how to dress and activities to engage in and most of the child’s interests are male oriented.


What is interesting is that this case has been heavily reported in the mainstream media as being about gender dysphoria. In reality, the case is about a mother pursuing her own agenda and the failure of the multi-disciplinary agencies to take appropriate intervention where there were strong grounds for believing that a child was at risk of serious emotional harm.


This case further highlights that whilst physical abuse and neglect are readily identified, some forms of emotional abuse can occasionally go unnoticed by the Local Authority.

The judge ruled that the identities of those involved in the case must be protected.

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