Freddy McConnell’s Battle To Be Named As Legal Father Ends
A transgender man’s court battle to be recognised as the legal father of the child he gave birth to has ended today (16 November) after the Supreme Court refused permission for his case to be heard.
In April the Court of Appeal ruled that Freddy McConnell, a transgender man who gave birth to his child in 2018, cannot be legally recognised as the father of the child he gave birth to. Current law requires that the birth parent is always to be regarded as the mother of the child even if that parent is, as in this case, legally recognised as a man.
The High Court rejected his argument to be registered as the father or parent of the child in September last year, ruling that being a mother was about the physical act of pregnancy and giving birth – even if the person was a male in law. The case marked the first legal definition of a mother in common law.
Family law experts at leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell have expressed disappointment at the decision.
Expert Opinion“The decision of the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal is very disappointing. They have missed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rectify a human rights breach for transgender parents like Freddy McConnell. It is now up to Parliament to pick up the baton and make the vital changes needed.
“The ongoing consultations around law reform within the Gender Recognition Act may help, but this is deeply disheartening as the court could have made a compelling human rights argument now to ensure change.
The registration of a child’s birth by parents is something that so many people take for granted. There is something fundamentally wrong with the system if some parents are unable to register their child’s birth accurately. That is a broken system and a private and family life issue.
“There are wider ramifications, particularly for young trans and gender diverse people. These people are not yet parents, but will be dissuaded by the current legal framework which does not offer even simple protections and proper recognition of trans lives.” Scott Halliday - Senior Associate