The father who gave birth to his own son

Praise: Seahorse has been hailed as a tender film about love, family, raging hormones and complex identities.

What if all men could give birth? Freddy McConnell is legally male, but was born female and is biologically able to carry children. His mother says it is an experience all men should have.

What’s happening

Freddy McConnell is a loving father to his son, Jack. They share an especially close bond because Freddy gave birth to Jack.

Freddy is a transgender man, which means he was born with a female body. His extraordinary story is told in a new film called Seahorse: The Dad Who Gave Birth, which is on BBC Two tomorrow evening.

Find out more

The film is called seahorse after the only species whose males carry their young.

Filmed over three years, the documentary follows Freddy’s decision to conceive, his pregnancy and, at last, Jack’s birth.

While Freddy was pregnant, he noticed that pregnant women’s worries and pain can be dismissed by others, including doctors.

“If all men got pregnant,” he says, “then my God, pregnancy would be taken much more seriously.”

Overall, his experience was wonderful and life changing.

“There is a strong case to be made for it being the peak human experience, if it goes well,” he says, describing labour as “transcendent”.

Freddy’s mum Esme agrees.

“I loved being pregnant. Everybody should experience it – especially men,” she says.

Should all men give birth?

Some say…

Yes. Having to endure the pain could make men more tolerant, open and understanding. If men and women were physically equal and child-rearing was truly shared, women would no longer be forced to sacrifice their careers and more would rise to the very top of society. It would be a fairer, freer world for all.

Others think…

No. We don’t need to go to this biological extreme to achieve equality. We could do it with equal paternity leave and changing attitudes. Without their life-giving power, historically women might have been in an even worse position. What if men decided they didn’t need women at all?

You Decide

  1. Would the world be different if men had babies instead of women?

Activities

  1. Ask your mother or another adult in your life who has children to tell you three ways that the experience changed them.

Some People Say...

“With painful labour you will bring forth children.’”

The Bible, Genesis 3:16

What do you think?

Word Watch

Species
A type of animal.
Conceive
Become pregnant.
Transcendent
Beyond ordinary human experience.
Adoptive
When someone brings up a child that they are not biologically related to.
Sexist
Unfair towards women.

Subjects

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.