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Trans man who gave birth is fighting back after court legally declared him his child’s ‘mother’

Lily Wakefield March 4, 2020
Freddy McConnell: Trans dad to take historic legal battle to Supreme Court

Freddy McConnell. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Trans man Freddy McConnell, who lost the right to be named his child’s father at the High Court last year, will take his case to the Court of Appeal today.

McConnell, a journalist who gave birth to his son in 2018, has been fighting a drawn out and highly publicised legal battle seeking the right to be registered as his child’s father or parent on the birth certificate, instead of “mother”.

An anonymity order originally prevented news outlets from naming McConnell, but his identity was revealed after a legal challenge from several British newspapers.

In September 2019, a judge ruled against the McConnell at a High Court trial in London, England, despite the fact that he is legally recognised as male and has a Gender Recognition Certificate.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the family division of the High Court, ruled that people who had given birth must legally be named as the “mother” on their child’s birth certificate, regardless of their gender. This created the first legal definition of a mother in common law.

Today, March 4, at 10.30am, lord chief justice Ian Burnett, lady justice Eleanor King and lord justice Rabinder Singh will hear McConnell’s case at the Court of Appeal.

Scott Halliday, lawyer and modern families expert at law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: “The High Court decision was hugely disappointing, but the Court of Appeal offers an opportunity to accurately acknowledge the relationship between Freddy and his child, and thus for the law to be on the right side of history when it comes to transgender rights.

 “The current argument used to resist change in the law is seemingly to allow transgender people to assume rights in their acquired legal gender only in some circumstances. It is a piecemeal approach and extremely problematic.

 “The transgender community will be looking at this case as a measure in how the law understands their needs and fundamental rights; a cherry-picking policy simply cannot be endorsed going forward, and the courts should recognise this when they hear the case.

At the crux of the story are a man and his child wishing to have the family life that reflects their personal reality – to not have this basic right is a tragedy and one we must rectify in law.”

Freddy McConnell documented his journey to fatherhood in the film Seahorse.

The documentary Seahorse, by the BBC in association with The Guardian, and directed by Jeanie Finlay, followed Freddy McConnell over three years, from trying to conceive to eventually giving birth.

McConnell was originally told by doctors that he would be infertile because he had been taking testosterone, but he dispelled this myth by suspending his hormone treatment, and carrying his own child.

Freddy told PinkNews that he decided to turn his pregnancy into a film to try to “help people understand more about trans folk” while “helping people like me discover that they can do this themselves – not that they have to or should do, but just that they can, because we’re given all of this misinformation”.

He added: “I try to honour the experience. I’m proud of myself and I’m proud of the film. It was amazing.

“This thing that we can do as trans men, having babies – I think it is kind of a superpower.”

More: birth cerificate, court of appeal, Freddy McConnell, High Court, pregnancy, Seahorse dad, Seahorse film, trans dad

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