Trans man who does not want to be listed as child’s ‘mother’ fails in Supreme Court bid

A transgender man who does not want to be recorded as the “mother” on his child’s birth certificate has failed in his bid at the Supreme Court.

Freddy McConnell, who was born a woman, wants to be registered as the “father” or “parent” on the certificate and claimed that documenting him as the “mother” breached his human rights.

Mr Connell, a journalist in his thirties, took the case to the High Court last year and then later to the Court of Appeal. But his claim was dismissed at both hearings, with judges ruling he must appear as “mother” on the certificate.

On Monday, his legal challenge suffered further defeat after he was denied permission to mount an appeal at the Supreme Court on the grounds that the case does not raise “an arguable point of law”.

The refusal means Mr McConnell will not be able to take his case any further in the UK courts.

The landmark case arose after Mr McConnell became pregnant several weeks after legally transitioning to become a man. Having given birth, he was told by the General Register Office, which oversees the registration of births in England, that the law required him to be registered as the baby’s mother. 

Mr McConnell challenged the decision in a high-profile legal battle last year when senior judge Sir Andrew McFarlane threw out his claim, ruling that there was “a material difference between a person’s gender and their status as a parent”.

Transgender man Freddy McConnell, whose story featured in a documentary about him giving birth.

This was upheld in April in the Court of Appeal when Lord Chief Justice Burnett, the most senior judge in England and Wales, said that any changes to the current rules would be a matter for members of parliament not the courts. 

When the legal proceedings began in early 2019, Mr McConnell was initially subject to an anonymity order. But this was lifted when it emerged he had made a documentary called Seahorse about his attempts to get pregnant.

Had Mr McConnell been successful in his legal challenges, his child would have been the first person born in England and Wales who did not legally have a mother.

In the UK, the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) requires anyone who gives birth to be registered as a mother regardless of the gender they choose to identify with.

Human rights campaigners and some lawyers expressed their disappointment with the decision that was made by the Supreme Court in response to the challenge.

Nancy Kelley, the chief executive of the LGBT charity Stonewall, described the decision as “incredibly frustrating” and accused the Supreme Court of having “missed an opportunity to progress equality”.

“Equality is not a luxury and this legislation desperately needs to be updated so trans parents can be recognised for who they are,” she said.

Scott Halliday, an associate solicitor at the law firm Irwin Mitchell, said that the Supreme Court had “missed a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rectify a human rights breach”.

Discussions around the reform of gender legislation are ongoing, with MPs currently considering proposals that would mean transgender people did not need a medical diagnosis to change gender.

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