Transgender man who gave birth can’t be ‘dad’ on birth certificate: UK court
A transgender man will not be legally recognized as “the father” of his newborn child, a senior family judge in England and Wales has ruled.
Although Freddy McConnell, 32, has lived as a man almost 10 years, he kept his female reproductive system and gave birth to a baby in 2018. He went to court after a hospital registrar refused to list McConnell as the baby’s father — despite having a legal certificate recognizing his male gender assignment.
But Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the high court’s family division, said on Wednesday that “motherhood” denoted pregnancy and birth, regardless of how the individual is seen in the eyes of the law, the Guardian reported.
“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,” McFarlane said.
“It is now medically and legally possible for an individual, whose gender is [recognized] 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,’ ” he concluded.
Some online critics, however, are calling this an attack on trans rights.
“Trans people, regardless of our bodies and our genders, have the right to accurate documents and a private/family life, and our children have the right to accurate documents and a secure childhood,” tweeted “international trans human rights defender” Ellen Murray, who is also the executive director of the advocacy group TransgenderNI. “Solidarity with Freddy McConnell; this isn’t right.”
McConnell, a multimedia journalist at the Guardian, told the outlet, “If it is upholding the status quo, then I am really worried about what this means not just for me but other trans people who are parents or who want to become parents.”
He continued, “It has serious implications for non-traditional family structures. It upholds the view that only the most traditional forms of family are properly [recognized] or treated equally. It’s just not fair.”
McConnell began testosterone treatment and chest reshaping surgery in 2013, but paused on hormones in 2016 so he could get pregnant. In 2017, he became pregnant via sperm donor. His pregnancy was documented in the film “Seahorse.”
The judge explained that the decision to register McConnell as a mother does not violate human rights as his legal recognition as a man is separate from birth record requirements.
However, a representative for McConnell’s child argues the birth certificate should “[reflect] the reality of his life.”
“Father means male parent,” said McConnell’s council. “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.”
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