September 25, 2019 / 12:58 PM / 21 days ago

Is a transgender man who gives birth a mother? Yes, says UK court

LONDON (Reuters) - An individual who is born female but later becomes male and gives birth to a child should be legally regarded as a mother, England’s High Court ruled on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Two police officers stand on duty outside of The Royal Courts of Justice in London, Britain, July 30, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville -/File Photo

Freddy McConnell, a transgender man, wanted to be recognised as the father of his son, who was born last year, on the official birth certificate but was told he would have to be registered as the mother.

He sought legal action to quash that decision, saying it breached his and his son’s rights but in a landmark ruling, Andrew McFarlane, President of the High Court’s Family Division, dismissed his claim and concluded that McConnell was the mother.

“It is now medically and legally possible for an individual, whose gender is recognised in law as male, to become pregnant and give birth to their child,” McFarlane said.

“Whilst that person’s gender is ‘male’, their parental status, which derives from their biological role in giving birth, is that of ‘mother.’”

McConnell, who was registered as female at birth, transitioned to live as male when aged 22, later undergoing a double mastectomy and testosterone therapy. Official details, such as his passport and health records, were amended to show his gender as male, court papers said.

In 2016, he suspended the testosterone treatment and became pregnant after undergoing intrauterine insemination fertility treatment using donor sperm, with the baby born in January 2018.

McFarlane said the issue had been “most properly and bravely” raised by McConnell and was an important matter for public debate, but related more to public policy than law.

“Down the centuries, no court has previously been required to determine the definition of ‘mother’ under English common law and, it seems, that there have been few comparable decisions made in other courts elsewhere in the Western World,” he said.

Campaign group Stonewall called the decision deeply disappointing and said the law desperately needed to be updated.

“We believe this ruling is a missed opportunity to send a positive message and recognise all parents, including LGBT parents, for who they are,” said Laura Russell, its director of communications.

Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison

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