Trans Man Loses Battle to Register as Father of Child

by Sam Cronin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday September 26, 2019

The most senior family judge in England and Whales ruled in a landmark case that Freddy McConnell, a transgender man who just gave birth, will not be legally allowed to register as his child's father. Rather, he will be legally defined as the mother.

The case has far-reaching implications, as it categorically redefines the word mother to be a non-gendered term.

What this means for Freddy is that regardless of his legal gender, male, he will not be allowed to appear as his child's father on its birth certificate.

McConnel, 32, "has lived as a man for several years but retained his female reproductive system and gave birth in 2018, went to court after a registrar insisted he was recorded as the baby's mother on the birth certificate despite holding a gender recognition certificate that made it clear the law considered him male," according to the Guardian.

BuzzFeed reports that "on Wednesday, the judge, Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the High Court's family division, ruled against McConnell and in favour of the government. Transgender men who give birth will have to register as 'mother' on the birth certificate — even if they were recognised as male prior to conception."

"Being a 'mother' or a 'father' with respect to the conception, pregnancy and birth of a child is not necessarily gender specific," McFarlane said in his ruling after McConnell requested a judicial review.

"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,'" the ruling continued.

McConnell, a Guardian multimedia journalist who has lived his entire life struggling with gender dysphoria, is considering appealing the decision.

"If it is upholding the status quo then I am really worried about what that this means not just for me but other trans people who are parents or who want to become parents," McConnell said to the Guardian.

"It has serious implications for non-traditional family structures," McConnell continued. "It upholds the view that only the most traditional forms of family are properly recognised or treated equally. It's just not fair."

The Guardian further reports that "a representative for the child told the court that it was important for his identity and self-esteem that the birth certificate 'reflects the reality of his life.'"

"Father means male parent," they said. "That is exactly what [McConnell] is. Anything else gives the impression of something secretive or shameful. This could lead [the child] to feeling excluded for society and that he is different or odd."

Family law experts Hannah Saxe and Scott Halliday at Irwin Mitchell said to BuzzFeed: "birth certificate should reflect the reality of their family situation. We allow individuals a legal route to acquire gender; we must not then fall short when they wish to use those rights in practice. Otherwise, why bother in the first place?"

In response, McConnell told BuzzFeed: "It is bigger than us, I will carry on fighting because this is threatening to set things back for LGBT people — as well as for society, gender, and how families are created. This slams the brakes on progress in a way that should scare people."

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