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Transgender man loses legal fight over birth certificate

A judge ruled against Freddy McConnell after analysing argument at a High Court trial in London.

A judge ruled against Freddy McConnell after analysing argument at the High Court (Andrew Matthews/PA)
A judge ruled against Freddy McConnell after analysing argument at the High Court (Andrew Matthews/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 has lost a High Court fight.

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

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

There is a material difference between a person’s gender and their status as a parent Sir Andrew McFarlane, High Court

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

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 that the law required 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.

“There is a material difference between a person’s gender and their status as a parent,” said Sir Andrew, in a ruling.

“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’.”

A birth certificate will stay with a child for life and it will be factually and legally inaccurate under current rules Karen Holden, A City Law Firm

A lawyer who represented Mr McConnell said an appeal was being considered.

“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,” Karen Holden, founder of A City Law Firm, said.

“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? Surely if you are going to move with modern times, the law has to finish the journey it has started.

“Equality shouldn’t have to come at a price, but this case has taken three years, hours of work and manpower, public attention and yet the courts still failed to help this family set out its actual family structure correctly in terms of its legal status.

“A birth certificate will stay with a child for life and it will be factually and legally inaccurate under current rules.

“Freddy is considering whether he wishes to appeal, and we have no instructions on that at present.

“We hope though others will pick up the chalice as well and look to bring UK law in line with other more progressive countries.”

PA

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