Birth Registration for Transgender Parents

NGA_Stock_234An important current legal case is considering birth registration for children born to transgender parents, asking whether UK law is right to insist that a parent who gives birth but is legally a man can be registered as his child’s ‘mother’.

The facts are that a transgender man has given birth to a child following fertility treatment. The conception came just ten days after the man received his Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) and therefore legally became a man (although this means that he would have had to have lived as a man for at least 2 years before this, and possibly much longer). His child is biologically his, born from frozen eggs retrieved prior to his transition and fertilised with donor sperm. He will identify and be known to his child as a father.

However, under UK law any person who gives birth to a child is that child’s ‘mother’ and is registered on the birth certificate as such. In this case the father wants to be registered as his child’s father; he says that forcing him to register as his child’s mother breaches his right to respect for family and private life.

The matter is currently before the High Court and the President of the Family Division Mr Justice McFarlane who is considering the application has called for fertility laws in the UK to be re-examined in the light of the case. His comments are justified, since parenthood for transgender parents is an issue which the law is completely silent about. The Gender Recognition Act (dating from 2004) states that a person who changes legal gender does not lose their status as the mother, father or parent if they already have a child, but it makes no mention of what should happen if they conceive a child after transitioning. Perhaps such scenarios were not envisaged in 2004, but in 2019 they are more and more common. Transgender and non-binary people can and do become parents through IVF, donor conception and surrogacy, and the law is excessively restrictive in what parental titles are given. It is time for birth certificates to reflect modern realities, and for transgender parents (and indeed all parents) to be able to choose whether they register as a mother, father or parent.


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