Transgender journalist Freddy McConnell is fighting the U.K. government to be listed as the father on his child’s birth certificate.
McConnell – whose experience with pregnancy as a transgender man was the subject of the documentary Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth – is now appealing a September 2019 High Court decision by the president of the court’s Family Division stating that McConnell has to be listed as the mother because he’s the one who gave birth to the child.
Though McConnell began testosterone treatments in April 2013 and had a chest reshaping surgery in 2016, he stopped hormones in order to get pregnant using a sperm donor.
According to The Guardian, the laws around McConnell’s pregnancy created some of his current legal dilemma. The intrauterine insemination fertility treatment McConnell used to get pregnant is governed by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 2008, a law that defines treatments as “assisting women to carry children.”
Hannah Markham, the lawyer representing McConnell, said that the deciding judge incorrectly declared that “mother” was not a gendered term and that McConnell’s giving birth was the “determining issue” in declaring him as the child’s “mother.” Markham said current U.K. law fails to respect the right of transgender people to be legally recognized by their gender identity.
Being misgendered on his child’s birth certificate is discrimination and exacerbates his gender dysphoria, McConnell said. Furthermore, it violates both his human rights and right to privacy since a birth certificate listing him as a “mother” could potentially out him as transgender, inviting intrusive questions about his personal life.
McConnell’s case could potentially affect an untold number of other transgender parents in the U.K. who have children under similar circumstances.
Here’s the trailer for Seahorse, a title that’s a reference to how male seahorses carry their species’ young: