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Trans man who gave birth Freddy McConnell loses second historic court battle to be named his child’s father

Vic Parsons April 29, 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 has lost a ruling today in his fight to be registered as the father of the child he gave birth to.

McConnell, a journalist who gave birth to his child 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”.

He lost his historic case at the High Court last year and appealed that judgment at the Court of Appeal, which handed down a ruling today in which McConnell again lost.

Karen Holden, founder of A City Law Firm, who represented McConnell during his initial High Court battle, told PinkNews her dismay over the court verdict.

“A City Law Firm has spent years fighting for justice for Freddy McConnell and despite the judge’s decision not to uphold an appeal, we are proud that our work in this case has not only raised awareness of an important issue affecting transgender families but will almost certainly change in years to come,” Holden said.

“A City Law Firm will always be prepared to challenge the law and fight.”

Laura Russell, director of campaigns, policy and research at Stonewall, said: “We’re incredibly disappointed to hear that Freddy McConnell has lost his appeal to be recognised as his child’s ‘father’ or ‘parent’.

“Once again, the Courts have missed a vital opportunity to send a positive message that recognises all parents, including LGBT parents, for who they are.

“Today’s news is going to be a disappointing blow for trans communities.

“This is another example of how current legislation contradicts the fragile equality trans people currently have, where they can have full recognition on some legal documents, but not on others.

“Updating this legislation will also benefit others in the LGBT community, specifically same-sex parents, who face similarly inaccurate and unequal representation on their children’s birth certificates.

“Equality is not a luxury and this legislation desperately needs to be updated so trans people can be recognised for who they are.”

Despite being legally male, McConnell discovered when registering his child’s birth in 2018 that because he had given birth his only option was to be named as his child’s mother.

McConnell brought the legal case to be registered as the father of his child – a move that reflects his relationship to the child, and would also prevent him from being outed as transgender every time his child needed to use a birth certificate as proof of identity, for example when registering at school.

His lawyers argued that the child would have been the first person born in England and Wales not to legally have a mother if McConnell won his case.

And if he had won, it would have paved the way for trans-inclusive, gender-neutral birth certificates in what advocacy groups argued would better reflect the growing diversity of families in the UK.

McConnell’s legal team had argued that the UK’s system of birth registration does not treat all families equally, with LGBT+ “rainbow families” treated differently by the legal system than families with heterosexual, cisgender parents.

Scott Halliday, a Family Law associate at Irwin Mitchell, said the judgement was not a surprise, but was still a “disappointing result” for the trans community.

“From a legal perspective, many believe the current law is a breach of human rights and from a human perspective, it’s problematic to have cherry-picking policies when it comes to transgender issues,” Halliday said.

“It’s not now clear whether or not it will be possible for the case to be heard by the Supreme Court, but given the huge public interest and the impact the outcome of the case will have for many transgender families and transgender people it is hoped that this case will generate some positive progress,” he added.

“The law is in need of reform.”

More: court of appeal, Freddy McConnell, High Court, rainbow families, Seahorse dad, trans parents

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