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Transgender Man Who Gave Birth To Son Loses Legal Battle To Be Named Father On Birth Certificate

by : Lucy Connolly on : 26 Sep 2019 12:49
BBC

A transgender man who gave birth to his child after keeping his female reproductive system has lost his legal battle to be named as the father on the birth certificate.

Freddy McConnell, 32, from Kent, had been living as a man for several years when he gave birth in 2018; he had been taking testosterone from the age of 25 and had undergone chest reshaping surgery.

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The new father then wanted to be named as such on his son’s birth certificate, however a High Court judge ruled on Wednesday (September 25) that his parental status must be that of ‘mother’.

Transgender man Freddy McConnell gives birthTransgender man Freddy McConnell gives birthBBC/Seahorse

As reported by The Guardian, Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the high court’s family division, gave the first legal definition of a mother in English common law when making the ruling.

The judge ruled that motherhood was about being pregnant and giving birth – regardless of whether the person who does so is considered a man or a woman in law.

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He concluded:

Being a ‘mother’ or a ‘father’ with respect to the conception, pregnancy and birth of a child is not necessarily gender specific. There is a material difference between a person’s gender and their status as a parent.

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 recognised 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’.

McConnell – who embarked on the legal battle after the General Register Office refused to name him as the father on his child’s birth certificate, claiming that a child legally has to have a mother – said he was ‘saddened’ by the court’s decision.

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The 32-year-old took to social media to voice his concerns that this decision will have ‘distressing implications’ for not just his family, but for others too.

McConnell’s pregnancy was documented in a new BBC film, Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth, which charts his journey towards fatherhood, showing him giving up testosterone so he was able to conceive.

You can watch the trailer for the documentary below:

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This had a number of effects on his body; his facial hair got wispier, his hips broadened, his stomach softened, and he began to speak from his throat rather than his chest. He also started having periods again.

Speaking of his experience, McConnell said in the documentary: ‘If all men got pregnant then pregnancy would be taken so more seriously and talked about.’

McConnell managed to fall pregnant on his second attempt of using a sperm donor, and was able to give birth naturally, opting for a water birth.

The 32-year-old has vowed to seek to appeal the High Court’s ruling, which has been described by campaigners as a massive blow to the rights of trans parents and their children.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: News, family, gender, LGBTQ+, transgender, UK News

Credits

The Guardian
  1. The Guardian

    Transgender man loses court battle to be registered as father