Transgender Man Who Gave Birth Can't Be Listed as Father, Court Rules

Michael Foust | Contributor | Friday, May 1, 2020
Transgender Man Who Gave Birth Can't Be Listed as Father, Court Rules

Transgender Man Who Gave Birth Can't Be Listed as Father, Court Rules

A biological woman who identifies as a transgender man and gave birth to a child lost an appeal Wednesday to be listed as the father on the birth certificate.

Freddy McConnell was born female and had a mastectomy as an adult but became pregnant via sperm donation. The baby was born in 2018. 

McConnell wanted to be listed as the child’s father on the birth certificate but was told by the registrar that British law would not permit it. 

McConnell then filed suit. A lower court ruled against McConnell last year. This week, the Court of Appeal also ruled against the transgender man.

“In our view, it is not possible simply to say that Parliament has ‘de-coupled’ the concept of ‘mother’ from gender,” the three-judge panel unanimously ruled.

The word “mother,” the court said, has special significance in British law. The justices pointed to the Children Act of 1989, which it said benefits the child by requiring a mother to be listed. 

“[The Act] provides that a mother has automatic parental responsibility for a child from the moment of birth,” the justices ruled. “No-one else has that automatic parental responsibility, including the father. … The fact of giving birth to a child has that effect as a matter of operation of law. It can readily be understood why this could be important in practice. 

“From the moment of birth someone must have parental responsibility for a newly born child, for example, to authorise medical treatment and more generally to become responsible for its care.”

Last year, Judge Andrew McFarlane of the High Court of Justice ruled against McConnell and agreed with the current law.

“There is a material difference between a person’s gender and their status as a parent,” McFarlane wrote. “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,” McFarlane added. “Whilst that person’s gender is ‘male’, their parental status, which derives from their biological role in giving birth, is that of ‘mother’.” 

McConnell said another appeal is possible.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Alexmia

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.