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Transgender man considering appeal after losing birth certificate fight

Freddy McConnell wants to be registered as his child’s ‘father’ rather than ‘mother’.

Freddy McConnell does not want to be described as ‘mother’ on his child’s birth certificate (PA)
Freddy McConnell does not want to be described as ‘mother’ on his child’s birth certificate (PA)

By Brian Farmer, PA

A transgender man who has given birth but does not want to be described as “mother” on a birth certificate is considering an appeal after losing a High Court fight, a lawyer says.

Freddy McConnell, a multimedia journalist who works for The Guardian, wants to be registered as father or parent.

A senior judge on Wednesday ruled against him after analysing argument at a High Court trial in London.

Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Division of the High Court, heard Mr McConnell is a single parent who was born a woman but now lives as a man following surgery.

In the UK he has the right to change his gender on his own birth certificate, so why not his child's Karen Holden, A City Law Firm

Mr McConnell was biologically able to get pregnant and give birth but had legally become a man when the child was born.

A registrar told him the law requires people who give birth to be registered as mothers.

He took legal action against the General Register Office, which administers the registration of births and deaths in England and Wales.

Sir Andrew concluded people who give birth are legally mothers regardless of their gender.

In a written ruling on the case, he said: “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’.”

Lawyer Karen Holden, who represented Mr McConnell and is the founder of A City Law Firm, said an appeal is being considered.

She added: “As a firm that champions equality we are of course disappointed at the judgment and it highlights how the law is slow to keep up to modern society.

“Freddy is legally a man and his legal papers display the same. In the UK he has the right to change his gender on his own birth certificate, so why not his child’s?

“Freddy is considering whether he wishes to appeal.”

Lawyers said the child would have been the first person born in England and Wales not to legally have a mother had Mr McConnell won.

Sir Andrew heard argument from lawyers representing Mr McConnell, the child, the head of the General Register Office, Department of Health and Social Care ministers and Home Office ministers.

Barrister Hannah Markham QC, who led Mr McConnell’s legal team, told the judge it was in the child’s interests for Mr McConnell to be registered as father or parent.

She said many children are growing up in “rainbow families” and a child has a right to have a parent’s gender “appropriately identified” on their birth certificate.

But barristers representing ministers and registrars said Mr McConnell’s claim should be dismissed.

Ben Jaffey QC and Sarah Hannett said the case raised complex public policy issues about protecting the rights and interests of trans people.

But they said a registrar had a “duty in law” to register Mr McConnell as “mother”, and argued his human rights had not been breached.

Mr Jaffey said there is a logic behind the law.

He said the law distinguishes between a “person who gives birth” and a “person who does not”.

PA

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