UK’s highest court rejects trans man’s appeal to be named his child’s father. But the fight is far from over

Nick Duffy
·3-min read

The UK’s highest court has rejected an appeal from transgender father Freddy McConnell, who was forcibly listed as “mother” on his child’s birth certificate.

Former Guardian journalist McConnell, who documented his experience giving birth as a transgender man in the film Seahorse, has waged a series of legal challenges over his child’s birth certificate.

McConnell, who has a Gender Recognition Certificate and is legally male, would like to be registered as “father” or “parent” on the document but has faced repeated defeats on the issue.

In previous rulings, the High Court and Court of Appeal maintained that because he gave birth, McConnell has to be registered on the birth certificate as their mother, irrespective of his legal gender – even though he would correctly be registered as a father if he became a dad through a partner giving birth or via a surrogate.

Supreme Court rejects appeal from transgender dad Freddy McConnell.

On Monday, the Supreme Court declined an application from McConnell to review the rulings.

A spokesperson said the justices had concluded “the applications do not raise an arguable point of law which ought to be considered at this time bearing in mind that the cases were the subject of judicial decision and reviewed on appeal.”

McConnell has now exhausted his legal options inside the UK’s legal system, but says he will now appeal to the the European Court of Human Rights.

Transgender dad: The journalist previously documented his experience of giving birth in the film Seahorse.
The journalist previously documented his experience of giving birth in the film Seahorse. (Instagram/SeahorseFilm)

He told The Guardian: “The law around birth registration doesn’t treat LGBT+ people equally on any level.

“There needs to be a series of cases to address this or a change in the law. I feel I am too deep into this to stop now. I am going to keep fighting and I ask anyone who can contribute to this to reach out.”

The European human rights court, which the UK will remain a member of after Brexit, has been pivotal to progress on LGBT+ rights in the UK based on the principle of non-discrimination.

Trans parents ‘should have right’ to be recognised legally.

If he had won, McConnell’s case could have paved the way for trans-inclusive, gender-neutral birth certificates in what advocacy groups argued would better reflect the growing diversity of families in the UK.

Stonewall boss Nancy Kelley said the latest court defeat was “deeply disappointing”.

She added: “All parents, including LGBT+ parents, deserve to be recognised for who they are and it’s incredibly frustrating that the supreme court has missed an opportunity to progress equality.

“The current legislation contradicts the fragile equality trans people currently have, where they can have full recognition on some legal documents, but not on others.

“Just like any other parents, trans parents should be able to have their relationship to their child recognised on their child’s birth certificates.”

Stonewall said previously: “Updating this legislation will also benefit others in the LGBT community, specifically same-sex parents, who face similarly inaccurate and unequal representation on their children’s birth certificates.

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