UK Trans Man Must Go Abroad to Be Legally Recognised As Father of Second Child

Freddy McConnell, a trans man who gave birth in 2018, hopes to give birth to his second child in Sweden, where trans men can be registered as fathers.
Freddy McConnell with his first child. ​Photo: Courtesy of Freddy McConnell.
Freddy McConnell with his first child. Photo: Courtesy of Freddy McConnell.

A transgender man who lost a legal battle to be named as the father or parent on his child’s birth certificate is hoping to crowdfund medical treatment abroad in order to receive legal recognition for his second child. 

Freddy McConnell gave birth to a child in 2018 in the UK after transitioning to male in his early 20s. He is now pregnant with his second child, expected early next year.

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In 2020, both the high court and the court of appeal ruled that McConnell could not be listed as the father or parent on his first child’s birth certificate, where he would be named as the mother, with McConnell arguing that this was a breach of his human rights. The case has subsequently been referred to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The child, who is now five, remains without a birth certificate.

Now, McConnell’s mother has launched a crowdfunder to help raise money for him to give birth in Sweden, where legally trans men can be recognised as fathers on the birth certificate. The crowdfunder states the funds will cover travel, self-catered accommodation, living costs, a bilingual doula, medical bills and a passport for the new baby. 

If successful, McConnell will be at least the second openly trans man to travel to Sweden to give birth, after a German trans man travelled to the country in 2019 to give birth, VICE World News understands. 

Speaking to VICE World News, McConnell – who has legally been recognised as male under the UK’s Gender Recognition Act – said it was important for legal documents to be accurate.

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“We are told [birth certificates] are important, we have to have them,” said McConnell. “All I'm asking is that it be accurate, and it reflects the society in which we live.”

“Whether it's doctors or people in the NHS [like] midwives, they all acknowledge that I am a man, and I'm a dad, and obviously my family and society sees me that way,” he said. 

“We're living in society today where there are lots of different kinds of families, lots of different kinds of mums and dads and parents, whether it's adoptive, or trans, or gay,” said McConnell. “In every meaningful sense, I believe I am my kid's father, and so it's just bizarre for it not to be reflected on their official documents.”

In the UK, only the person who gave birth to the child is legally listed as the mother on a birth certificate. In the case of lesbian couples, only the woman who gave birth to the child will be listed as mother, while the other will be listed as “parent.” 

McConnell hopes that any change in the UK’s legislation will both help trans parents as well as LGBTQ parents or those who adopt.

“The parallels with other kinds of LGBTQ families is something that I've been consistently struck by,” said McConnell. “It's not just about me, or about guys that give birth, it's about the fact that often, lesbian couples are registered as mother and parent. That makes that second mother feel like less than and doesn't really reflect her status as her child's mother, socially, legally or culturally.”

McConnell documented his journey of becoming a father in a 2018 documentary entitled Seahorse, as well as in a series of columns in VICE.

McConnell remains optimistic about the outcome of his ECHR appeal. 

“If we were to reach a point where it became clear that there was going to be some form of legal recognition, enshrined or transparent, that would be a huge relief,” he said. “To know we had that legal security or recognition would be massive, especially given the current climate in the UK when it comes to trans rights.”