An anonymity order protecting the identity of a transgender father has been lifted, after a legal challenge from several British newspapers.
On Tuesday, the High Court lifted the order that had prevented newspapers from naming Freddy McConnell, 32, as the subject of a legal case.
McConnell, a journalist who gave birth to a son in 2018, had been seeking the right to be registered as the child’s father or parent on their birth certificate, instead of “mother.”
Newspaper publishers challenged anonymity order protecting transgender father
An anonymity order had initially preventing news outlets from naming McConnell or his child in relation to the case, but Sir Andrew McFarlane sided with a coalition of news organisations seeking to quash it.
The challenge was brought by the publishers of The Times, The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Daily Mirror and The Daily Telegraph.
McConnell’s lawyers argued that allowing him to be named publicly with relation to the case put the family at risk of a flood of abuse, harassment and online trolling.
Freddy McConnell (Photo: Seahorse movie)
However, the judge ruled that it was in the public interest for McConnell to be named, though the identity of his child is still protected.
McFarlane ruled that there was “public interest in the question of how the state and the law should recognise [McConnell’s] parenthood,” and found that the risk of intrusion into the lives of him and his child is “not so significant as to justify maintaining anonymity.”
Freddy McConnell: Order was intended to protect my child
In a statement to The Guardian, McConnell said: “Protecting my child has always been and will always be my number one concern.
“This was the purpose of the anonymity order. Now that my anonymity has been lifted, I embrace the opportunity to draw focus on to the need for equality in this area of the law.
“All children should be able to have their legal parents correctly and accurately recorded on their birth certificates.”
His lawyer Karen Holden added: “Having an accurate birth certificate is vital as it stays with someone for their entire life and forms part of their identity.
“We took on this case to support changing a part of UK law that denies equality, creates inaccurate documentation and fails to serve multiple groups with the LGBTQ+ community”.
Though he maintained anonymity with regard to the case, McConnell is to appear in a documentary, Seahorse, about his journey to parenthood.
A synopsis explains: “Made with unprecedented access and collaboration over three years, the film follows Freddy from preparing to conceive right through to birth.
“It is an intimate, audacious and lyrical story for the cinema about conception, pregnancy, birth and what makes us who we are.”
Controversial provisions in an Indian law that criminalised begging by transgender people and forced them to register as trans have been struck out.
The begging provision had been heavily criticised by India’s trans community, who said that begging remains their primary source of income and to introduce a law criminalising it without providing them with alternative options would take away their means of living.
Begging was made a criminal offence in India’s capital, Mumbai, in 1959, with the legislation extending to Delhi the following year.
In August 2018, the Delhi High Court decriminalised begging, saying that it was the wrong approach to dealing with the problem.
“The State simply cannot fail to do its duty to provide a decent life to its citizens and add insult to injury by arresting, detaining and, if necessary, imprisoning persons who beg in search for essentials of bare survival,” said Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar at the time.
Members of the Indian transgender community take part in a protest against the Transgender Persons Bill 2016, in New Delhi. (SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Transgender persons bill introduces rights and protections
But the new Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019, which was cleared by India’s union cabinet on July 10, originally contained a provision stating that, “Whoever compels or entices a transgender person to indulge in the act of begging or other similar forms of forced or bonded labour other than any compulsory service for public purposes imposed by government.
And another provision of the bill, which meant that trans people would have been forced to subject themselves to screening by a committee and certified as trans in order to qualify for the anti-discrimination protections in the bill, has also been struck out.
The new trans bill defines trans identities and gives the community rights and discrimination protections. It will be introduced in the next session of the Indian Parliament.
YouTuber Miles McKenna has said he was addressed with the wrong pronouns and deadnamed while speaking on a panel at VidCon.
The LGBT activist asked how “someone that doesn’t know how to address trans people” was invited to moderate an LGBT panel at the event.
Writing on Twitter, McKenna said: “Yesterday I was called she/her and deadnamed on a panel by the moderator who after I corrected that you don’t call trans ppl by their old name said ‘I didn’t know’.”
“Who allowed someone that doesn’t know how to address trans people moderate an LGBT panel?
“No formal apologies have been sent to me except for @TrevorProject who immediately messaged me, came to talk to me in person and followed up later in the day with how in shock they were that it happened. I’m very confused.
“The panel I was on was titled ‘LGBT Activism and Awareness’ so here’s me doing my part in activism and awareness. Hire people that know LGBT to head an LGBT panel. I’ve worked in this space for years and this has never happened to me.”
Miles McKenna accepts the award for Best LGBTQ+ Account at the Shorty Awards in 2018 (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Shorty Awards)
McKenna continued: “My issue is less with someone’s ignorance and more with how was that person allowed to head a panel that partly focuses on trans topics.
“Who allowed me to be on the same stage, as well as allow me to invite my young trans audience saying it’s a safe space?”
VidCon has now responded to the incident, writing on Twitter: “VidCon prides itself on being a safe and trusted space for all of our Featured Creators.
“We do our best to research and stay vigilant in what is appropriate in each of the communities that are represented in this diverse online video space.”
The organisers also addressed Miles personally, writing: “A mistake was made yesterday that left @TheMilesMcKenna hurt.”
Researchers have found a clear link between people who hold anti-gay views and people who hold anti-transgender views.
The National Centre for Social Research analysed data from the long-running British Social Attitudes survey, which includes questions about both same-sex relationships and transgender people.
In a report published on Thursday (July 11), researchers identified a clear link between those who are likely to hold negative views about transgender people, and those who believe that same-sex relationships are unacceptable.
Homophobia and transphobia are inextricably linked
The body explained that many “assume that public attitudes to transgender people may be reflective of attitudes to same-sex relationships,” because it is commonplace “to consider the experiences, needs, rights and contributions of sexual and gender minorities as interrelated.”
Researchers ran two regression analyses based on data sets from the survey, adding: “In both models we included attitudes to sex between two adults of the same sex as an explanatory variable, along with age, level of education, religious affiliation and sex.
“Even after controlling for these demographic characteristics, attitudes towards same-sex relationships remain associated with prejudice towards transgender people – with people who express less negative attitudes towards same-sex relationships also being less likely to report being prejudiced towards transgender people.”
Attitudes towards same-sex relationships remain associated with prejudice towards transgender people.
Those with negative attitudes towards same-sex relationships are also more likely to believe that people transition “because of a very superficial and temporary need.”
Women, younger people and more highly educated people are also more likely to hold positive attitudes about transgender people.
The report also contrasts the findings on trans rights to data that shows attitudes towards same-sex relationships steadily improving over a 30-year period.
A group of lesbian campaigners show solidarity with the trans community at 2019’s Pride in London march. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty)
It asks: “What might the time series on same-sex relationships suggest about the future pattern of attitudes to transgender people, given the link between the two in the minds of the public?
“Firstly, it may be that attitudes to transgender people follow a similar trajectory, and thus the proportion of the public who feel that transphobia is sometimes justified, or who feel uncomfortable with transgender people working in public services, will steadily decline over time.
“Secondly, it may be that progressive policymaking, including reforming the GRA, could itself influence the public to adopt more positive attitudes, as the progressive journey towards marriage equality has for same-sex and opposite-sex relationships.”
LGBT people ‘must stand together’ against homophobia and transphobia
Stonewall’s Executive Director of Campaigns and Strategy Paul Twocock said previously: “We will only make progress if we stand together.
“We are a diverse community made up of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, who come from different faiths, who live in different neighbourhoods and do different jobs. But we are united in our desire to create a world where we can be free to be ourselves.
“At such a vital time for trans equality, we strongly encourage everyone from across the LGBT community and beyond to be fierce, visible allies. We are strongest when we stand united. Together we will win this fight.”
Labour’s equalities chief Dawn Butler has slammed the government’s handling of gender recognition reforms, branding stalling on the issue a “f**king disgrace.”
Butler, the Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, accused Theresa May’s government of giving rise to a “hostile environment” for transgender people by stalling planned reforms to gender recognition laws.
In an interview with the What the Trans!? podcast at UK Black Pride on Sunday (July 7), she explained: “It’s a f**king disgrace, how GRA (Gender Recognition Act) has been handled.
“The government thought they would be on trend, and say ‘we will reform the Gender Recognition Act,’ because that was the Labour policy.
“The Tories said, ‘OK, we will also reform the Gender Recognition Act’, but they made the announcement and got some anti-GRA people, so they started to roll back and slow down.”
Dawn Butler: Delays left a void that was filled with hate
She added: “Within that 18 months of them slowing down, they left a void, so that void was filled with hate, misconceptions, misrepresentation… all of that.
“What happened in that void of the government rolling back is that transgender people began to feel the hate and discrimination that they hadn’t felt in a long time.
“Transgender people were just living their lives, they had some problems, but they were dealing with it.”
Labour’s shadow equalities chief Dawn Butler at UK Black Pride (Dawn Butler)
Butler continued: “What this did was shine a spotlight on the transgender community that didn’t have to be there, so they started to feel all this hate, going into toilets people would say ‘your hands are pretty big for a woman’… they never had that before.
“Everyone was just living their lives and nobody gave a s**t.
“I blame the government for the hostile environment for the transgender community. I think it falls on their shoulders, and they’ve done so much damage, it’s going to take us a long time to refill that void and hate.”
Next step for gender recognition reforms stalled until ‘later this year’
What The Trans!? co-host Ashleigh Talbot told PinkNews: “We consider Dawn Butler’s statement to be entirely in keeping with the frustration many of us feel at the current government’s lack of action on trans rights and healthcare, particularly after the tortuous media circus around the public consultation in 2018.
Mhairi Black: Self-ID will not lead to ‘swathe of rapists and perverts’
Black accused opponents of trans rights of spreading “misconceptions and outright lies” about trans people.
She explained: “From the get-go, a lot of the people who have concerns about trans issues complain that they are not getting the chance to be heard, when in actual fact it feels like all we’re hearing from is those people.”
Speaking to JOE, she added: “It’s actually common practice internationally, it’s recognised that self-ID is the best system.
“Malta, Ireland, Denmark, none of these places have seen these swathes of rapists and perverts suddenly identifying as women.
London Pride 2019: Mhairi Black discusses transphobia and LGBT rights - YouTube
“It just doesn’t happen. I think a lot of the stuff is just based on misconceptions and outright lies.”
Policing women’s spaces leads to misogyny
She also took aim at the “misogyny that hides behind the trans-exclusive feminist argument” of wanting to police female spaces, adding: “Do I pass as a woman? I’m regularly told I want to be a man, just by the fact I dress differently.
“I’m not trans, I’m a woman, but my entire life I’ve felt excluded from female groups and spaces.”
She added: “What they’re doing is creating a situation where women feel emboldened enough to challenge me when I’m going into the toilet.
“‘Can I see your gender certificate?’ No you can’t, I’m a woman! ‘Could you prove it for me?’ Do you want to look at my bits?
“You’re the pervert there, not me, so why am I being labelled one? That’s why it’s causing so much pain to the trans community.”
Mhairi Black challenged anti-transgender viewpoints (Official photo)
Addressing trans-exclusive feminist viewpoints, she added: “A lot of the women who are raising concerns about this have fought and won a lot of rights that benefit me.
“But in the same way they used to look at the older generation and think, ‘I appreciate you’ve got this far but there’s more to do,’ I wonder if this is now a generational thing.”
She added: “When do we ever hear of trans men being talked about? That is because these women are coming from the point of view of, only a man can be dangerous to me. That’s not true. Your genitalia does not decide what your actions in life are going to be. You can’t have it both ways.”
Members of the Scottish Parliament have launched an inquiry into transgender healthcare provisions.
The Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses issued a call for evidence from trans people on Friday (July 5) as part of an inquiry into trans health.
The inquiry will have a focus on sexual and reproductive health services for trans people.
MSPs to probe transgender healthcare
Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “We want to hear from trans people, health practitioners, and organisations that advocate on behalf of trans people.
“We’re interested to hear about any experiences of sexual and reproductive health services, where things can be done better, what went well, and what an ideal sexual and reproductive health service would look like for trans people.
“Trans and non-binary people are human too, and we need to ensure all services meet their needs.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP ALex Cole-Hamilton on the way to First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament on January 12, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Ken Jack/Corbis via Getty)
Scottish Labour Party MSP Monica Lennon added: “When talking about sexual and reproductive health trans people are often forgotten about, despite being a distinct group within society with their own specific needs.
“This Inquiry will allow us to highlight instances where trans individuals have trouble accessing PrEP or issues with reproductive health and look at what we can do to improve services.”
Nathan Sparling of HIV Scotland, which provides the secretariat for the group, said: “We’re grateful to be providing support to this important Parliamentary Inquiry, which will provide some key recommendations to improve access to healthcare for trans people.
“Globally, it is estimated that 16 percent of trans women are living with HIV, and we need to ensure that all trans and non-binary people can access services to help prevent, test and treat STIs such as HIV.”
Last month, the Scottish National Party leader opted to order a second public consultation on the reforms, which had already been subject to an extensive public consultation in 2017.
Sturgeon told MSPs that the trans rights reforms are “a very, very, vexed issue where people feel very strongly and it is dividing opinion within parties and across parties.”
However, Stonewall Scotland warned: “Any further delay will allow more fear and misinformation to spread and that will profoundly impact on trans people’s quality of life in Scotland. Trans people have suffered for far too long from inequalities that can be easily removed. “
The Church of England is to embrace same-sex marriage, but only if they were originally opposite-sex unions.
In a shift in policy announced ahead of the General Synod on Friday (June 6), the Church was pressed to shift its teachings about marriage.
The Church will maintain its teaching that marriage is “a lifelong and exclusive union between one man and one woman,” but will drop opposition to same-sex unions where one partner has transitioned.
Church of England won’t oppose same-sex marriage for trans people
Synod member Prudence Daily had asked bishops: “If one person in a couple undergoes gender transition, has consideration been given as to whether they are still married according to the teaching of the Church of England?”
Bishop of Newcastle Christine Hardman responded: “If a couple wish to remain married after one partner has transitioned, who are we to put them asunder?”
She explained: “When a couple marry in church they promise before God to be faithful to each other for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, come what may, although we preach compassion if they find this too much to bear.”
Christine Hardman, the Bishop of Newcastle, attends the General Synod on November 25, 2015 in London (Carl Court/Getty)
The bishop continued: “Never in the history of the church has divorce been actively recommended as the way to resolve a problem.
“We have always prioritised fidelity, reconciliation and forgiveness, with divorce as a concession when staying together proves humanly unbearable.”
The move was met with resistance from trans activists, who suggested the Church is only embracing same-sex unions for trans people because it still regards them as their birth gender.
Trans campaigners: Church of England ‘sees trans men as women’
Dr Jane Hamlin of the Beaumont Society told the Daily Telegraph: “It is encouraging that the Church of England seems to recognise that people do transition and remain happily married.
“However, it is clear that because this only applies to couples who married before the transition the Bishops do not really accept the transition at all.
“They still see the trans man or trans woman as he/she was appearing at the time of the wedding. This is disappointing.”