OPINION: The law must change to reflect true equality for transgender rights

by Karen Holden | A City Law Firm
Friday, 19 July 2019 08:59 GMT

The Royal Courts of Justice are seen in London Britain May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

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* Any views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Freddy McConnell is fighting for the legal right to be accurately identified as father on his child's birth certificate

Karen Holden is the founder of A City Law Firm

Transgender parent Freddy McConnell is in the midst of a major legal battle in the UK for the right to be identified accurately on his child’s birth certificate.

When McConnell launched legal action last year, he simply wanted his child's documents to reflect their family accurately, to be a legal parent and not be forced to register as mother when he is legally now recognised as a man.

Today, McConnell is fighting for the rights of the LGBT+ community around the world by asking only for a choice to be treated with fairness.

The ruling in this lengthy legal battle is now imminent and whatever the judge’s decision in the matter of Freddy McConnell (originally referred to as TT in legal documents) and YY (his child), there is one thing I know for sure – the UK law must change as society has. Without immediate legal reform, transgender men and women are being forced to register as parents they are not legally recognised to be.

As the solicitor representing Freddy in this unprecedented case, I feel when the UK stands up for equality it needs to ensure it goes far enough to protect everyone and right now transgender and other LGBT+ rights need urgent reform.

As a forward-thinking, progressive leader of the modern western world, parts of UK law do not reflect our ever-evolving society. Other countries are reviewing their position and we need to be embracing these discussions.

In 2004, the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) was enacted to govern how trans people have their identity legally recognised, which was completely ground-breaking at the time. Yet, as always, the law never goes far enough and thinks also about the practical realties of applying the law. It currently, as in this case, denies equality, creates inaccurate documentation and fails to serve multiple groups with the LGBT+ community.

Transgender rights have never been so important and the result of this case, could change lives and, indeed, history.