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by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Oct 8, 2019

Jeanie Finlay's emphatic documentary "Seahorse," about Freddy McConnell — a determined British trans man who wants to give birth — is a remarkable testament of faith by McConnell, who allows the cameras to film every part of his extraordinary journey. To avoid the story becoming the slightest bit sensationalized, McConnell assembled his own crew to be able to tell his story and then entrusted Finlay to take over. It turned out to be the perfect call.

McConnell had just finally become comfortable in his own skin after he transitioned and although he had an overwhelming desire to be a parent, he was extremely apprehensive about stopping his testosterone treatments and how that would affect him both physically and emotionally. 

He had planned to include his best friend CJ, another trans man, as a co-parent, and they even went as far as to seek out sperm from a black donor so that the child would look like CJ, too. However, that relationship ended; McConnell moved out of London and back to his mother's house in the small seaside town of Deal.

There, on his second attempt, McConnell became pregnant and his strong-willed mother became his biggest support and protector. Throughout his pregnancy, which was playing hell with his hormones, he verbalized a great deal about his mood swings and his concerns about how his body was taking on more of its old feminine aspects. However, no matter what worries he raised about the journey, the one thing that remained unshakable was his determination to be a parent.

He had to think long and hard about how he shared the news of his pregnancy so that he could avoid the unusual aspect of this scenario becoming fodder for any sensationalization. McConnell's relationship with his own father (who had left the family home when McConnell was only eight years old) was very unpredictable, so he broke the news in an email, fearing a face-to-face meeting would not end very well. Aside from that, his mother and he only told a handful of very close friends; even so, one of them simply could not let their own inbred prejudices upset McConnell and the rest of the family one sunny afternoon in the garden.

Any doubts that McConnell (and anyone else) were beginning to harbor about the whole concept of a trans man giving birth completely dissipated when Jack was born. The sheer joy on McConnell's face said it all, as did the very close bond son and father quickly formed.

It takes an enormous amount of courage for people like McConnell to challenge the status quo of a system that is totally geared around cis women. He did so unapologetically and with charm and charisma, and as such gave us this film about the strength of the love and commitment of a happy family that, simply by existing, challenges the norm.

At the end of the journey McConnell expressed concern about his own naivete about the full physical and emotional extent of reactions. But he professed that he had not one single regret. And neither did we.

P.S. The film — produced by the BBC and The Guardian — takes its title from the fact that the male seahorse always carries the young.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.

Seattle Queer Film Festival

This story is part of our special report titled "Seattle Queer Film Festival." Want to read more? Here's the full list.


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