Freddy McConnell: Transgender man who gave birth hits out at ‘de facto sterilisation’


The dad has accused medical professionals of spreading misinformation about the ability of transitioning people to give birth.

                              Freddy McConnell: Transgender man who gave birth hits out at 'de facto sterilisation'

One of the few transgender men in the UK to have given birth has said misinformation from the medical profession is “de facto sterilisation”.

Freddy McConnell, who made a documentary film about his experience, spoke to Sky News about what it was like to be a pregnant man and to give birth.

Mr McConnell transitioned to become a man in 2013 and started undergoing testosterone therapy.

At that time he was told it would make him infertile.

He said: “I remember signing a consent form to start testosterone and thinking ‘well this is it, I just won’t have biological kids’ and I’ll figure out what to do in the future.

“I was in my early twenties and I was desperate to transition, it was absolutely the right thing for me to do.

“But I should never have been put in a position where I thought I was signing away my fertility.”

Mr McConnell decided he wanted to start his own family in 2016, despite thinking he wouldn’t’ be able to have his own children.

                              Freddy McConnell: Transgender man who gave birth hits out at 'de facto sterilisation'

It was in fact a YouTube video of a pregnant man in the United States that made him realise carrying his own child was indeed an option.

Mr McConnell is frustrated by the fact he was initially misinformed.

He continued: “In some countries around the world trans people are obliged to undergo sterilisation in order to access transition.

“Japan for instance is a place that does that, and up until recently, places in Europe as well, like Sweden for instance would require you to be sterilised.

“This government in the UK has always prided itself on not requiring sterilisation, because obviously it’s an infringement of one’s human rights.

“But by paying such little attention to trans people’s wishes to start families and have full lives, and not just the lives that they dictate through this narrow sense of what it is to transition, it is in fact de facto sterilisation.

“I think if we keep being given this misinformation, even now that we know that’s it not true and that there are further options… it’s criminal, it just shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”

                              Freddy McConnell: Transgender man who gave birth hits out at 'de facto sterilisation'

Man who gives birth loses right to anonymity

Freddy McConnell, who was legally registered as male at the time of the birth, does not want to be recorded as the child's mother.

Since Mr McConnell transitioned things have moved on a lot.

There is now more information, research and care supporting prospective trans parents.

The process of Mr McConnell becoming pregnant involved him pausing his testosterone injections and waiting for his monthly cycle to return.

He then underwent IVF treatment using a sperm donor.

It worked on the second attempt.

But Mr McConnell said his pregnancy was emotionally challenging in ways he hadn’t predicted.

He said: “For someone like me, transitioning unlocks a certain comfort and settledness within yourself, it makes you feel whole, it allows you to get on with life and live the life you want to live.

                              Freddy McConnell: Transgender man who gave birth hits out at 'de facto sterilisation'

“Being off testosterone was very very difficult, but being pregnant wasn’t so difficult.

“So it’s an interesting dynamic.”

Mr McConnell also said that while pregnant he was rarely recognised as a pregnant man, but instead people tended to see him as a man with a beer belly.

He continued: “Out in public, and in terms of strangers I didn’t ever get recognised as a trans man who was carrying his own baby or was pregnant, it’s amazing actually the kind of invisibility… the invisibility out in the world was a kind of protection.

“I think people just thought that I was a man with a beer belly, and I was absolutely fine and happy for people to assume that.”

                              Freddy McConnell: Transgender man who gave birth hits out at 'de facto sterilisation'

Now his child has arrived safely and is a toddler, Mr McConnell wants to help other trans parents and is starting a charity to support people considering starting a family in the way he did.

Mr McConnell says in his documentary Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth that it is important he is recognised as his child’s father and not its mother.

He said: “I think having gone through the experience of pregnancy and birth, I want to honour that difference, and don’t want to erase that, and now that I have a community of other trans men that have given birth, that feels like an important part of my identity definitely.

“I guess as a new parent I am learning what a lot of new parents learn, which is that your kid doesn’t care who you are, they just need to be looked after,

“I think as a single dad I can be just as nurturing, I can give my child everything that they need.”

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