Coming on the back of one of my recent blogs about gender reassignment (Gender Neutral? published on 25 June 2019), I spotted an interesting story appeared on Sky News today.
It concerns a legal action taken by Freddy McConnell, a multimedia journalist with The Guardian newspaper, to have himself declared the father of a child. There would seem to be nothing particularly significant about this. Mr McConnell is a transgender man and he gave birth to the child in 2018 after he had undergone gender reassignment and was no longer legally recognised as female. During the process of gender reassignment, Mr McConnell chose not to have a hysterectomy.
When he attempted to register himself as the child’s father, the registrar refused to do this – hence the lodging of the legal action before the English High Court’s Family Division.
In terms of Section 7 of the Equality Act 2010, a person who has undergone or who is contemplating gender reassignment can bring a legal action under the Act if they believe that they have been subjected to unlawful, less favourable treatment (prohibited conduct).
The story has now hit the headlines because Mr McConnell had enjoyed anonymity while the action is still to be decided. He has now lost this anonymity because he participated in a documentary (partly produced by his employer) about his struggle to be named as his child’s father rather than its mother.
Other media outlets, such as The Telegraph, challenged the anonymity order as they argued that it infringed the right of journalists to comment freely on a matter of legitimate, public interest.
Interestingly, the story then became not merely about transgender rights, but also one of human rights (in terms of the Human Rights Act 1998). There was a conflict between Mr McConnell’s right to privacy and a family life and the right of freedom of expression of journalists (Articles 8 and 10 respectively of the European Convention on Human Rights). On this particular matter, Mr McConnell has lost his attempt to remain anonymous as Sir Andrew McFarlane, President of the High Court’s Family Division has found in favour of The Telegraph et al.
It remains to be seen whether Mr McConnell will win his legal action to be named as his child’s father on the birth certificate.
A link to the story on the Sky News website can be found below:
A link to Sir Andrew McFarlane’s judgement can be found below:
TT v YY  EWHC 1823 (Fam) Case No: FD18F00035
Copyright Seán J Crossan, 17 July 2019