Marriage equality especially important for transgender people

I hadn’t thought how important marriage equality might to transgender people, more so than homosexuals having equal rights to get married. In addition to that they have a unique problem under current marriage law.

If someone who is married changes gender they either can’t legally change their gender identity status, or they can’t remain married, because same sex marriage is not possible.

A GayNZ post Trans marriage equality by Diane Sparkes explains this.

When a person who changes their gender to that of the opposite gender i.e. male to female or female to male, they have the legal right to make changes to all public records, to change their birth certificate, in order to reflect their chosen gender identity.

That’s fine, as long as they aren’t married.

Under the present law when one party to a legal marriage changes their gender identity, the state requires that before the transitioning partner can achieve true legal gender identity status, the marriage is dissolved. In the case where neither party wishes to dissolve their marriage, both parties find themselves in a no win situation. Each partner is forced by the state to divorce the other even though love and support has maintained the relationship through arguably one of the most difficult situations any married couple will ever face.

The law does not actually demand divorce or enforce dissolution; however should the transitioning partner make no application to obtain their legal status, they become further disadvantaged as failing to achieve ones legal status carries many uncertain issues. For example a male who transitions to female will still be male in the eyes of the law and vice versa!

In effect, for proper legal recognition of their gender status, current marriage law forces a divorce.

To friends, family and society the couple after transition, still present themselves as a couple as they have always done. The law however, because of current legislation is unable to make the necessary changes allowing the transgender partner their right to be legally recognised because they are still legally married.

Passing this bill will remove a serious injustice placed upon the married transgender individual, because it will no longer be a requirement of the state for the dissolving of the marriage.

The transgender person will then be able to achieve legally their new gender identity, stay married, and maintain the family unit. Then and only then will true equality to exist.

The simple solution is to enable marriage equality.

As Diane also points out, when a spouse wishes to change gender the marriage will often break down anyway. But marriage equality would remove one major complication in what can be a very difficult time.


  1. Harvey

     /  December 6, 2012

    The above problem seems like a rare occasion to be used as an argument to support changes to who may marry whom. It could easily be covered under a provision in Births Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Act 1995.

    The idea that there are a lot of people experiencing a sex change within marriage scenario who then want to continue the marriage as is, while also claiming that those same people are incapable of the mental gymanstics of a dissolution and remarriage under new identity is unbelievable. If you were capable of reconciling a complete change of gender, I would have thought that dissolving and re-identifying under a new marriage would be the right and desirable thing to do. Are there many people who could tolerate the idea of marrying a woman and then having them change to a man? Both parties would have to be bi-sexual to start with. Gender goes further than phsyical definitions.

    To my mind, the claim that who may marry must change to fix the problem borders on politically ingenuine imaginings. It’s an argument that hides something else, is badly thought out or at least goes to a lot of effort to solve a simple problem. Allowing gender adjustments to birth certificates would be a small and unrelated law change almost no one used and could provide the solution. Why should it be any more difficult than changing one’s name?

    • As I understand it it’s not difficult to change your legal gender status (since recent law changes) – except if you are married and change your gender.

      It is a problem that can simply be changed through the pending marriage equality legislation. If everyone has the same right to be married regardless of gender then it’s solved.

  2. steve

     /  December 7, 2012

    How daft. Cutting of your willie dosen’t turn you into a woman anymore than cutting of your leg turns you into a stork!