Transgender man who gave birth to his son reveals pregnancy was ‘f****** awful’ – and admits that men have no idea of what expectant mothers have to go through

  • Freddy McConnell kept his womb when he transitioned so he could carry a child
  • In 2016 Freddy began his journey so he could conceive using a sperm donor
  • The journalist was filmed for a documentary ‘Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth’ 
  • He gave birth while legally a man and is fighting to be recognised as the father

A transgender man who chose to keep his womb when he transitioned so he could carry his own child, has recalled how ‘f***ing awful’ pregnancy was.

Freddy McConnell, 32, who lives in a seaside town in the UK, started his journey to fatherhood back in 2016 which was filmed over three years as part of a documentary.

The film’ Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth’, shows Freddy giving up testosterone so that he is able to conceive and ends up living in gender limbo. 

After a few months carrying his son, Freddy bemoans: ‘If all men got pregnant then pregnancy would be taken so more seriously and talked about. 

‘F***, it’s f***ing awful. If men had to go through this all the time you would never hear the end of it.’

Freddy McConnell chose to keep his womb when he transitioned from a woman to a man so that he could carry his own child

Freddy started his journey to fatherhood in 2016 and had to stop taking testosterone so that he could conceive. On his second attempt Freddy fell pregnant using a sperm donor

Freddy was able to give birth naturally, filmed in the documentery Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth having a water birth

Freddy falls pregnant on his second attempt using a sperm donor and explains that being filmed for the documentary was much more difficult than he anticipated. 

‘I think I totally underestimated the difficulty of being on camera and being filmed a lot. I remember thinking “this is really odd I’ll get used to it”, but I never got used to it.’ 

He said of his decision to undertake his journey: ‘This is a film about me having a baby. But what I feel like I’m going through isn’t me having a baby or pregnancy, it’s a much more fundamental total loss of myself.’

Director Jeanie Finlay told the Guardian ahead of their film screening: ‘It’s the most challenging film I have made. It was an emotional marathon.

‘I don’t think anybody realised the dysphoria that Freddy felt would be quite so difficult. 

‘You put someone in a situation that is enormously purposely challenging and then you add a film into the mix. That is really tough.’

Freddy said he feels a special bond with his son after giving birth but faces a fight to get himself recognised as the child’s father 

Freddy reaches full term and gives birth legally as a man, however  he faces a challenge because the law only recognises him as a mother.

The General Register Office, going by the rules established in 1836, refused to name him as the father, pointing out that, legally, a child has to have a mother, at least on the document that confirms their existence.

Freddy’s objections have led to a High Court battle against the Government, with his lawyer arguing that it is a breach of Freddy’s human rights to force him to be recognised as the baby’s mother.

If Freddy’s case is successful, his child will be the first in Britain to, in the eyes of the law, have no mother.

After one failed attempt, Freddy falls pregnant on his second try using a sperm donor and shares the moment with his mum 

He shows off his positive test result as he continues his journey to becoming a father in the documentary 

Scenes in the film show Freddy going for a scan, his baby kicking in his stomach and his changing hormones

Talking about experiencing gender dysphoria as a child, he told the Guardian: ‘I once heard it described as a cosmic toothache, which is quite apt. And I’d felt it since the age of three or four.

‘I talked about it very rarely, but quickly realised as a young child it wasn’t an OK thing to talk about. People don’t like it when little kids use terms like “sex change”, and they tell you to shut up.’

Freddy’s mum, Esme (who appears in the documentary and is hugely supportive) thought that he would ‘grow out of it, and I believed her’.

After school, he went to Edinburgh University, studying Arabic, and worked abroad teaching, but he found his 20s incredibly difficult because of the growing certainty he should have been born male.

It wasn’t until he reached university did Freddy decide to begin his transition from woman to man but chose to keep his womb

By the age of 25, he was on the route to gender reassignment. He started taking testosterone, then had surgery to remove his breasts. He considered a hysterectomy, but did not go through with it.

Interestingly, he had always wanted to be a parent, and had considered becoming pregnant before transitioning. Then he decided that would be irresponsible. ‘I needed to figure out exactly who I was before I had a kid,’ he explained.

He was told that he could freeze his eggs, with a view to surrogacy further down the line, but ruled this out. Then, on hearing that trans men in the U.S. had given birth themselves, this seemed like a preferable option.

To get pregnant, Freddy has to stop taking testosterone in order to conceive. His body goes into a gender limbo. He starts having periods again, which appals him (‘I don’t like the idea that I’ve got tampons in my bag,’ he says).

After giving up testosterone Freddy finds his hormones playing havoc with his periods returning and his facial hair growing whispier

Freddy has said he will be open with his son as he grows up about everything, adding ‘whatever is age-appropriate’

His facial hair gets whispier, and his hips broaden. There are tears, high emotion, clearly his hormones are playing havoc. ‘I feel like a f***ing alien,’ he complains at one of his low points.

Against all the odds, Freddy falls pregnant. While the pregnancy isn’t easy, the birth is joyous.

‘There is a strong case to be made for it being the peak human experience, if it goes well,’ he has said since, one of the few men in the world to be able to say such a thing with authority.

The cameras are there as he gives birth, which was an odd experience, but now he is ‘glad it was captured’, not least because one day his child, the one at the heart of this huge debate, will have questions about their birth.

‘I look forward to sharing everything,’ he has said. ‘I’m going to be totally open at every stage — whatever is age-appropriate.’ 

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