When a transgender man gives birth to a child, it creates complications on multiple levels. This is a story that talks about the law, fatherhood, and transgender inclusivity in the nation. It is true, the case is unlike anything we have all heard of before. But the situation is here nonetheless, and we have to make a call. Not the call of decision, but the call to protect and support the right side.
Who is the parent of a child? The one who birthed the child? Or the one who fits the legal definitions to be a parent? Generally speaking, a parent, or rather a mother gives birth to a child. This is because we are taught to believe that woman births a child hopefully after wedlock. This is why our legal judgments for children outside out of this ideology creates complexities. These children include those born out of wedlock, children who don’t know who the father is or is birthed by a man. There are no extensions, special cases or subsections in the law that prevent them from being taken away from their parents. And this needs to stop.
Which is what makes Freddy McConnell’s story such an important one not only to the LGBTQ+ community but to everyone who believes in equality. So let’s get to it.
Freddy McConnell born in 1986, is an English multimedia journalist who works for The Guardian.
Since childhood, McConnell experienced gender dysphoria. McConnell realized he was trans in 2010, at the age of 23. He began testosterone treatment in April 2014 and underwent top surgery a year later in Florida.
Freddy McConnell, born as a woman but later transitioned to become a man.
He elected not to have a hysterectomy because of his possible interest in having children. McConnell gave birth to a son in 2018.
How did that happen?
McConnell has lived long as a male, starting testosterone treatment in April 2013 and undergoing chest reshaping surgery in Florida. In 2016, he sought advice from a fertility clinic about becoming pregnant.
And suddenly, his hormone treatment was suspended. This affected the reversal of some of the gender-reassignment processes. This left him destabilised, and what he described as a “loss of myself”.
His menstrual cycle restarted and he became pregnant in 2017 using sperm from a donor. He gave birth in 2018.
The Rundown of the Case:
A transgender man who gave birth loses a High Court battle. A battle to make his child the first one in the UK to be born without a mother.
The Transgender man attempted to create legal history by having his baby become the first to legally not have a mother. And he lost this battle with the High Court, with the presiding judge citing the “basic facts of life”.
He went to court after a registrar insisted for the baby’s mother on the birth certificate. Also, holding a gender recognition certificate that made it clear the law considered him male.
Now one can see the multiple levels of hurdles that a transgender man has to go through to call his own child legally his. When a mother is separated from a child, the issue is followed with marches and tears and call for humanity. So why does it vanish when we talk about a transgender man? When gays can adopt, and straight men and women can choose to live without a child, why is the nation’s law, keeping a human from his child. We make a bigger fuss of a cub being taken away from a lioness. Why are we not screaming louder for equal rights?
Barrister Hannah Markham QC, McConnell’s legal team lead:
His legal team said the courts “failed” McConnell and his family in a declaration that has left McConnell and his supporters stunned.
If he had won, it would have paved the way for trans-inclusive, gender-neutral birth certificates. And would better reflect in the growing diversity of families in the UK, as the advocacy groups argued.
McConnell is considering appealing the verdict, his legal team told Pink News.
I’m saddened by the court’s decision not to allow trans men to be recorded as father or parent on their children’s birth certificates.
I fear this decision has distressing implications for many kinds of families. I will seek to appeal and give no more interviews at this stage.
His lawyers argued that the child would have been the first person born in England and Wales not to legally have a mother if McConnell won his case.
There is a material difference between a person’s gender and his/her/their status as a parent.
It is legally and medically possible for an individual can become pregnant. Even if the gender is recognised in law as male. 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’.
The landmark case raised questions on the legitimacy of current fertility laws.
Especially after Mr McConnell was officially recognised as a man and access fertility treatment 10 days later.
And to add to this, the evidence prompted Sir Andrew to invite the Government to review the current Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (HFEA), telling the hearing in February: “It is a matter of concern that, as you are submitting in what seems to be outside the scheme of the Act, the clinic treated TT whilst openly regarding him as a man.
So folks, what’s your take? What does it mean to be a mother? Should legalities like having a “mother” that is not based on biology precede a decision about who a child belongs to? Let us know!