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Judge quashes anonymity order protecting trans dad from British tabloids

Nick Duffy July 16, 2019
Freddy McConnell

Freddy McConnell, the trans dad in the documentary Seahorse. (Seahorse movie)

An anonymity order protecting the identity of a transgender father has been lifted, after a legal challenge from several British newspapers.

On Tuesday, the High Court lifted the order that had prevented newspapers from naming Freddy McConnell, 32, as the subject of a legal case.

McConnell, a journalist who gave birth to a son in 2018, had been seeking the right to be registered as the child’s father or parent on their birth certificate, instead of “mother.”

Newspaper publishers challenged anonymity order protecting transgender father

An anonymity order had initially preventing news outlets from naming McConnell or his child in relation to the case, but Sir Andrew McFarlane sided with a coalition of news organisations seeking to quash it.

The challenge was brought by the publishers of  The Times, The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror and The Daily Telegraph.

McConnell’s lawyers argued that allowing him to be named publicly with relation to the case put the family at risk of a flood of abuse, harassment and online trolling.

Freddy McConnell
Freddy McConnell (Photo: Seahorse movie)

However, the judge ruled that it was in the public interest for McConnell to be named, though the identity of his child is still protected.

McFarlane ruled that there was “public interest in the question of how the state and the law should recognise [McConnell’s] parenthood,” and found that the risk of intrusion into the lives of him and his child is “not so significant as to justify maintaining anonymity.”

Freddy McConnell: Order was intended to protect my child

In a statement to The Guardian, McConnell said: “Protecting my child has always been and will always be my number one concern.

“This was the purpose of the anonymity order. Now that my anonymity has been lifted, I embrace the opportunity to draw focus on to the need for equality in this area of the law.

“All children should be able to have their legal parents correctly and accurately recorded on their birth certificates.”

His lawyer Karen Holden added: “Having an accurate birth certificate is vital as it stays with someone for their entire life and forms part of their identity.

“We took on this case to support changing a part of UK law that denies equality, creates inaccurate documentation and fails to serve multiple groups with the LGBTQ+ community”.

Though he maintained anonymity with regard to the case, McConnell is to appear in a documentary, Seahorse, about his journey to parenthood.

A synopsis explains: “Made with unprecedented access and collaboration over three years, the film follows Freddy from preparing to conceive right through to birth.

“It is an intimate, audacious and lyrical story for the cinema about conception, pregnancy, birth and what makes us who we are.”

More: father, Freddy McConnell, Trans, Transgender

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