On Tuesday evening, Hannah and Jake Graf featured in an intimate documentary on Channel 4 about their journey to parenthood via surrogacy. Hannah and Jake highlighted some the struggles they faced as a transgender couple wanting to start a family. Hannah spoke openly about her desire to carry her own baby as a mother, but not being able to.
Jake had chosen to freeze his eggs before transitioning, and the documentary follows their search for a surrogate through to their daughter’s birth in April 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic.
The documentary is a very personal account of their journey and does not go into the legal considerations of their surrogacy arrangement. It is mentioned that they paid their surrogate £15,000 and payments are often one of the first questions I get asked about during legal review meetings. In the UK surrogates are typically paid between £12,000- £18,000 depending on their circumstances. There is no definition of reasonable expenses and so the court must consider each case individually. However, there is a common misconception that surrogates in the UK can only be paid their reasonable expenses. The issue of the amount of money paid, is simply a consideration of the court, who must authorise payments beyond reasonable expenses. Ultimately the court just wants to ensure that everyone has behaved reasonably.
If you are transgender and considering conceiving a child, you will understandably want to know whether your gender identity can be registered on your child’s birth certificate. Unfortunately, the law in the UK is very complex regarding how you will be registered on your child’s birth certificate. The law does not allow you to choose whether you will be registered as the ‘mother’, ‘father’ or ‘parent’. This means that if you give birth to a child then you will be legally recognised as the child’s ‘mother’, even if you are legally male. In these circumstances Jake and Hannah used a surrogate, and so their surrogate will be legally recognised as their child’s ‘mother’. They will need to apply for a parental order within 6 months of Millie’s birth to re-assign legal parenthood to them. The parental order will trigger the re-issue of Millie’s birth certificate recording them both as a ‘parent’.
If you need any advice concerning the issues raised please get in contact with our Fertility Law Team.