British trans dad Freddy McConnell will give birth abroad in order to be legally recognised as his second child’s father.
McConnell, who lost a lengthy legal battle against the UK government to be named his first child’s father or parent on their birth certificate, is hoping to travel to Sweden – where trans men who give birth are recorded as the father on a child’s birth certificate – to give birth to his second baby.
After four years of court fights, McConnell ultimately lost his case at the Court of Appeal in 2020. The Supreme Court rejected his request to appeal that ruling – leaving him without further legal options in the UK.
“Ever since I decided to have another kid, this problem was looming on the horizon,” McConnell told PinkNews. “And I have not had a clear sense of how I was going to deal with it.”
The problem is that if he gives birth in the UK, his second child will either have an inaccurate birth certificate – recording their “mother” as “Alfred” and opening them up to potential abuse and discrimination later in life when they have to out themselves as having a trans parent – or, like their older sibling, no birth certificate at all.
This is because while McConnell is legally male, UK law from the 1950s insists that whoever gives birth to a baby can only be recorded as the mother on the birth certificate. This issue affects not only trans parents but also same-sex couples and couples who use a surrogate.
His family supports his plan to travel abroad to give birth, with McConnell’s mum, Esme, organising a crowdfunder to try to raise £10,000 so that McConnell and his family can travel to Sweden together.
“Ultimately she’s a very pragmatic, clear-headed person,” McConnell says. “She could see the stress it was causing me and also knows that even if I was quite clear about wanting to go to Sweden, I would have struggled to ask for that kind of help. So she just did it for me.”
I realise this crowdfunder is a big ask. I feel strange about it and I want to be transparent about that.
— Freddy McConnell (@freddymcconnell) October 20, 2021
While there were several points in his pregnancy where he believed he’d have to stay and give birth in the UK because of the coronavirus pandemic, McConnell was also weighing up travelling to Canada or Australia to give birth, as both countries have better legal recognition for trans parents. Then, he talked to a fellow trans dad from Germany who told him about giving birth in Sweden.
“Speaking to this dad [from Germany] kind of changed everything,” McConnell recalls. “He made it seem really doable. He was really encouraging and offered to give me the contact details of the hospital where he gave birth, and to put me in touch with his doula. He said it all worked out [with the baby’s birth certificate] and was really simple.”
According to the GoFundMe set up by McConnell’s mum, Sweden is one of the few places in the world to fully recognise trans parents.
“Many other Western democracies make gender-neutral birth certificates available to all kinds of families, yet the UK government does not,” the crowdfunder says.
“We feel just as strongly as Freddy that our grandchildren need accurate birth certificates, which reflect their truth and which will not cause embarrassment or put them at a disadvantage as they grow up.
“No one should have to leave their home country to give birth. But if this is what it takes to get fair and equal treatment under law for our next grandchild, we feel as a family that we have no choice.”