Transgender man who gave birth to baby loses legal fight to be recognized as father

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
Freddy McConnell wanted to be registered as his child's father. (Photo: Getty)

transgender man who does not want to be described as the “mother” of his baby on a birth certificate has lost his legal fight to be recognized as the father in a high-profile British case.

Freddy McConnell, a multimedia journalist who works for British newspaper The Guardian, wanted to be registered as the father or parent of his child. McConnell gave birth to the baby after becoming pregnant with donor sperm.

A judge on Wednesday ruled against him after analyzing arguments at a High Court trial in London.

"There is a material difference between a person's gender and their status as a parent," said Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Division of the High Court, in a ruling.

"Being a 'mother,' whilst hitherto always associated with being female, is the status afforded to a person who undergoes the physical and biological process of carrying a pregnancy and giving birth.

"It is now medically and legally possible for an individual, whose gender is recognized in law as male, to become pregnant and give birth to their child.

"Whilst that person's gender is 'male,' their parental status, which derives from their biological role in giving birth, is that of 'mother.’"

A lawyer who represented McConnell said an appeal was being considered.

Related Video: Freddy McConnell Documents Pregnancy in ‘Seahorse’

"As a firm that champions equality, we are of course disappointed at the judgment and it highlights how the law is slow to keep up to modern society," said Karen Holden, founder of A City Law Firm.

"Freddy is legally a man and his legal papers display the same. In the U.K. he has the right to change his gender on his own birth certificate so why not his child's? Surely if you are going to move with modern times, the law has to finish the journey it has started.

"Equality shouldn't have to come at a price, but this case has taken three years, hours of work and manpower, public attention and yet the courts still failed to help this family set out its actual family structure correctly in terms of its legal status.

"A birth certificate will stay with a child for life and it will be factually and legally inaccurate under current rules.”

McConnell, 32, claims in the documentary Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth that pregnancy would be taken more seriously if more men gave birth.

In the film, which portrays his fatherhood journey over three years, he says, “If all men got pregnant then pregnancy would be taken so much more seriously and talked about.

“If men had to go through this all the time you would never hear the end of it,” he adds.

Lawyers said the child would be the first person born in England and Wales not to legally have a mother if McConnell won his case.

A judge delivered the ruling at the High Court in London. (Photo: Getty)

They say other transgender men have given birth but have been registered on birth certificates as mothers.

McFarlane heard how McConnell is a single parent who was born a woman but now lives as a man after surgery. McConnell was biologically able to get pregnant and give birth, but had legally become a man when the child was born.

A registrar told him that the law required people who give birth to be registered as mothers. McConnell took legal action against the General Register Office, which administers the registration of births and deaths in England and Wales, after complaining of discrimination.

He said forcing him to register as the child's mother breached his human right to respect for privacy and family life.

McFarlane heard arguments from lawyers representing McConnell, the child, the head of the General Register Office, Department of Health and Social Care ministers and Home Office ministers.

Barrister Hannah Markham QC, who led McConnell's legal team, told the judge that it was in the child's interests for him to be registered as father or parent.

She said many children were growing up in "rainbow families" and said a child had a right to have a parent's gender "appropriately identified" on their birth certificate.

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