British courts have been handling a number of transgender reform cases this year, most of which haven’t gone well for the plaintiffs. The most recent incidence centered on an upcoming change in the law (under the Gender Recognition Act) that will ban children under the age of 18 from having irreversible transgender “transitional” surgery. But now another one has come up relating to a different aspect of the debate. A woman identifying as a male gave birth to a child and insisted on being listed as the baby’s father. The courts saw it differently and ruled that she was the mother of the child in every scientific sense that mattered. (Christian Post)
A trans-identified female in England can not be listed as the father of a child to whom she gave birth, an appeals court ruled.
A three-judge panel from the Court of Appeal of England and Wales headed by Lord Chief Justice Ian Burnett last week upheld an earlier high court ruling against 34-year-old journalist Freddy McConnell.
“At common law a person whose egg is inseminated in their womb and who then becomes pregnant and gives birth to a child is that child’s ‘mother,’” the appeals court decision reads. “The status of being a ‘mother’ arises from the role that a person has undertaken in the biological process of conception, pregnancy and birth.”
Freddy McConnell had already lost this battle once. The lower court had ruled that the terms mother or motherhood are defined as a “status afforded to a person who undergoes the physical and biological process of carrying a pregnancy and giving birth” no matter what gender the mother is recognized as.
I’ll confess to being somewhat on the fence about this one, if only because there’s a difference between debating the definitions of “man” or “woman” and the common familial references to “mother” or “father.” The courts have clearly gone with science as their guide in this case because someone without a womb can’t give birth to a child and someone who does give birth to a child is clearly a woman by definition. But does that necessarily make her the mother or the father?
Knowing several people who were adopted, it seems to be almost universally accepted that the person who raises you is the one you refer to as the mother or father. Children born through artificial insemination aren’t going to usually think of the sperm donor as their “dad” if they were raised in a loving family with a father helping to take care of them. The same can be said for adopted children referring to the woman who raised them as their mother. The birth canal they original came out of belonged to their “biological mother” at best.
Freddy McConnell raising this child while identifying as a man will probably result in a rather confused child, sadly, but if that’s the role she’s playing in the home it obviously muddies the waters a bit. While at no point does a person born with two X chromosomes, ovaries and a womb “become” a man, I suppose I’m just not as put off by the apparent misuse of terms mother and father when it comes to her own child. But the courts have spoken and these are the laws of Great Britain, so I suppose it’s really not my business to begin with.
Just as a side note for any newer readers, I refer to McConnell using female pronouns because of my own rule of thumb and personal beliefs. I do refer to transgender individuals with incorrect pronouns if they’ve undergone the irreversible surgery undertaken to complete their “transition.” (You can read a full explanation of this policy at the end of this post about Chelsea Manning if you wish.) Having recently managed to give birth, Freddy McConnell clearly doesn’t fall into that category and is still fully female in my opinion. What she chooses to call herself or what anyone else calls her is entirely up to them. Free speech and all that, don’t you know.