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Trans dad loses court case to be named as his child’s father, pledges to appeal

Trans dad loses court case to be named as his child’s father, pledges to appeal

  • Freddy McConnell now hopes to take his case to the Supreme Court.
Freddy McConnell.

A transgender father has pledged to appeal after a UK court refused to allow him to be registered as his child’s father.

Freddy McConnell gave birth in 2018. But although he is a man, officials would only register him as the child’s father.

He argued that the law already recognized him as a man at that point he gave birth. He had legally registered as a man before conception.

And he argued that because the law covering transition states gender recognition includes ‘all circumstances’ it follows he should be the father, not the mother on the birth certificate.

He wants his two-year-old child’s official documents to name him ‘parent’ or ‘father’. As he says, this is how his child will think of him throughout life.

But the Appeals Court today disagreed. Judges Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh ruled against him today.

They didn’t accept that registering McConnell as his child’s mother violated his right to a private and family life.

In their verdict, they referred to his child as YY to protect the child’s identity.

‘The legislative scheme of the GRA [Gender Recognition Act] required Mr McConnell to be registered as the mother of YY, rather than the father or gestational parent.

‘That requirement did not violate his or YY’s Article 8 rights. There is no incompatibility between the GRA and the Convention. In the result we dismiss the appeals.’

‘Trans parents will get legal recognition’

However the case is far from over as far as McConnell is concerned. He has confirmed he will appeal to the UK Supreme Court.

He tweeted the Appeals Court ruling was a ‘disappointing, conservative decision’.

But he added: ‘We knew this would be a long fight. Don’t lose hope. We are applying to the Supreme Court. Trans parents will get legal recognition.’

His legal team will apply to the Supreme Court in the next couple of weeks. It may take the court months to confirm if it will hear the case.

He has been fighting the case ever since he discovered in 2018 that officials will only register him as his child’s mother.

The UK government’s lawyer Ben Jaffey QC accepted in court that McConnell’s desire not to be his child’s mother is a ‘perfectly legitimate and sincerely held view’.

However, Jaffey argued that the Birth and Death Registration Act of 1953 doesn’t allow for a child not to have a mother. And under that act, the mother is the person who gives birth.

Meanwhile the law defines a ‘partner’ as the female partner of a mother. And a ‘father’ on a birth certificate can hold that title whether or not they have a genetic link to the child.

By contrast, McConnell’s lawyer, Hannah Markham QC argued that saying a ‘mother’ was anyone who gives birth to the child is flawed. She said a ‘mother’ is a woman which McConnell can’t be because the law recognizes him as a man.

She said that to force him to be on the birth certificate as a ‘mother’ is ‘an offence to [his] right to a private life, an offence to [his] being and identity’.

Paving the way for gender-neutral birth certificates

If McConnell wins his next case, it will pave the way for trans-inclusive and gender-neutral birth certificates in England and Wales.

It will also mean future parents in the same position won’t be outed as trans each time their child has to present a birth certificate, for example when registering at a new school.

Even if the Supreme Court doesn’t rule for him all may not be lost. He may be able to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The UK will remain a member of that court even after Brexit as it is not a part of the EU.