Birth mother who identifies as transgender man is not legally a ‘father,’ judge rules

Documentary subject Freddy McConnell, a biological woman who identifies as transgender (L) and director Jeanie Finlay attend the "Seahorse" screening during the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at Village East Cinema in New York City on April 27, 2019. | Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

A U.K. court has ruled that a woman who gave birth while identifying as a man cannot be recognized as her baby's “father" on the child's birth certificate and other legal documents. 

Freddy McConnell, a biological woman who identifies as transgender and retained her female sexual and reproductive organs, sued the General Register Office, which registers births and deaths in England and Wales, claiming that they engaged in discrimination by identifying her as the baby's mother. 

In a decision released Wednesday, the Right Honorable Sir Andrew McFarlane of the High Court of Justice, Family Division, ruled against McConnell.

“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,” McFarlane wrote in his ruling.

He added: “It is now medically and legally possible for an individual, whose gender is recognized 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.’”

McFarlane went on to note that McConnell’s complaint has “failed and must be dismissed,” but she “will automatically have parental responsibility for [her] son.”

McConnell, a multimedia journalist with The Guardian, denounced the decision and is considering an appeal.

“If it is upholding the status quo then I am really worried about what that this means not just for me but other trans people who are parents or who want to become parents,” McConnell told The Guardian.

“It has serious implications for nontraditional family structures. It upholds the view that only the most traditional forms of family are properly recognized or treated equally. It’s just not fair.”

Born female, McConnell has reportedly suffered from gender dysphoria since childhood and eventually underwent testosterone treatments in 2013 and traveled to the U.S. to undergo a surgical procedure to have her breasts "reshaped."

Despite identifying as male, McConnell wanted to become a parent and suspended hormonal treatments to find a sperm donor and have a baby, The Guardian adds.

McConnell’s decision to get pregnant and give birth was the subject of a 2019 documentary titled “Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth.

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