A transgender man who gave birth to a child has lost a legal battle to be registered on the child’s birth certificate as the father instead of the mother.
Freddy McConnell appealed a decision made by a High Court judge that an individual who carries and gives birth to a child is legally the child’s mother. But McConnell wanted to be named the father on all of the child’s legal documents.
McConnell will be legally identified as his child’s mother, despite his very best attempts to not be. McConnell is a transgender man, born female, who birthed a child in the natural way, but wants this to be reclassified as fatherhood for himself and his child.
McConnell expressed his disappointment by the Court of Appeal ruling, adding that the fight to be named the father was “just not over.”
The UK has some of the most accommodating regulations afforded trans people who wish to be recognized according to their preferred gender identity as opposed to their biological sex. But even the High Court ruled that it was a step too far for a legally identified man who gave birth to be labeled as the “father.”
The decision of the High Court took the child's right to have a mother into consideration. It also parsed the language, allowing both the noun and verb definitions of the word mother. While mother is a title or description of a relationship a relationship, it is also the verb 'to mother,' meaning that a mother is someone who has mothered.
McConnell has indeed mothered, since his child issued from his own body, meaning that he is a mother, according to the High Court.
Having lost this appeal, McConnell has now decided to move forward by appealing to the Supreme Court. According to the BBC, three Appeal Court judges actively sitting in London upheld a ruling by the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlene.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett asserted that the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) required McConnell to be legally registered as the mother, and added that the requirement did not violate his rights to private and family life, as laid out in the European Convention on Human Rights.
“There is no incompatibility between the GRA and the Convention,” he said. “In the result, we dismiss these appeals.”
Lord Burnett did not give McConnell permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. He went on to say that it was for parliament to decide if the law needed to be changed.
The judge said the Children Act 1989 afforded the mother automatic and full responsibility for a child from the moment of birth, adding, “No one else has that automatic parental responsibility, including the father.”
“From the moment of birth someone must have parental responsibility for a newly-born child, for example, to authorize medical treatment and more generally to become responsible for its care.”
But McConnell does not believe the UK laws go far enough in accommodating his wishes, saying, “Any right-thinking person can see the inconsistencies in the law.”
He claimed those inconsistencies have led to “much wider issues,” adding that some pertinent legislation stretched back as far as the 1950’s, such as the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953.
“Lots of people I think don't appreciate how out of date the law is around families and parents, including on surrogacy,” he said.
McConnell's story was documented in the film Seahorse, that tracked his journey toward motherhood.
McConnell wants the law to make a special exception for him—a law that is well understood and accepted as legitimate by the vast majority of the population. And with this, mothers stand to lose the “automatic parental responsibilities” that have been afforded to them.
McConnell has given no details as to when he will appeal to the Supreme Court.