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Trans man loses legal challenge to being registered as son's 'mother'

26 September 2019
Appeared in BioNews 1017

A trans man who became pregnant and gave birth has lost his legal challenge not to be named as the mother on his child's birth certificate.

Freddy McConnell had lived as a man for several years and legally changed his gender before conceiving his son through insemination at a fertility clinic. He gave birth in 2018, but when he went to register the birth was told he would have to be recorded as the child's mother.

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

McConnell brought a judicial review of the Registrar General's refusal to allow him to be named as 'father' or 'parent' on the birth certificate. Had the case been successful, his child would have been the first born in England and Wales without a legal mother. 

The case was heard by Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales, England's most senior family judge, who concluded that:

'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".'

Sir Andrew accepted that the status of mother does not reflect the 'social and psychological reality' of McConnell's relationship with his child, but he said it was a matter of public policy rather than law, and that there was a 'pressing need for Government and Parliament to address square-on the question of the status of a trans male who has become pregnant and given birth to a child'.

McConnell's journey to parenthood is the subject of the documentary film Seahorse (see BioNews 1016). 

R (TT) v Registrar General for England and Wales & Ors [2019] EWHC 2384 (Fam) |  25 September 2019
'Seahorse' transgender man loses challenge to be named father
BBC News |  25 September 2019
Transgender man loses court battle to be registered as father
The Guardian |  25 September 2019
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