Mother Of Transgender Ex-Haredi Woman Petitions High Court To Block Cremation
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The estranged haredi family of a transgender woman, 31-year-old May Peleg, has petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice to overturn a lower court ruling allowing her cremation, the Times of Israel reported.
Peleg, a leader in the LGBT community in Israel, filed a will less than 10 days ago specifying that she wanted to be cremated and noting that she had not had contact with her biological family for many years.
Peleg committed suicide a week ago.
At 20, Peleg married. She had two children with her haredi wife. But the couple divorced. Peleg began living as a female and then had a sex change operation.
Peleg and her ex-wife initially remained close – until approximately two years ago when, allegedly at the instigation of Peleg’s mother, Peleg’s ex-wife blocked Peleg from seeing the children, who are now 10 and 9 years old.
In the lower court Peleg’s mother – who was, according to Peleg’s own affidavit and will was extremely hostile and injurious both to her and to Peleg’s ex-wife and children – claimed that halakha (Jewish law), which forbids cremation, should trump the will and secular law. She also claimed Peleg was mentally ill and not competent to make her own decisions.
Peleg’s attorney was allowed to enter into evidence the findings of a psychological evaluation of Peleg done in September that found her mentally competent.
In the lower court, Peleg’s mother and her attorney, Yitzhak Dahan, referred to Peleg as “my son.” But in her high court petition Peleg’s mother changed that language, which many found to be offensive, and refers to Peleg as a woman.
As he did in the lower court, Dahan’s petition continued to argue that Peleg’s will had “no legal validity,” while Peleg’s mother reportedly told Channel 2 news that Peleg’s suicide itself proved she was mentally ill, and that was absolute proof the is invalid.
In an affidavit filed just before her suicide, Peleg strongly condemned her biological family.
“There are reasonable grounds for concern that if my body reaches my biological mother’s hands she will subject me to a religious burial, with Judaism not recognizing me as a woman, even though I’ve undergone sex-change surgery. This constitutes a lack of respect and an erasure of my identity,” Peleg wrote.
Peleg’s mother intends to bury Peleg as a male with full religious rites. The High Court is expected to hear her petition Tuesday.