Alex Blaze

Trans man denied marriage license

Filed By Alex Blaze | December 29, 2010 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: law, marriage, Michigan, paperwork, transgender, transsexual

The local news covers the story of a trans man in Michigan denied a marriage license even though he had all the paperwork needed. This story says a lot about how politics, which is people of differing opinions on everything coming to agreements, can't really decide on the boundary between the sexes.

I wonder what would have happened if he had tried to marry a man?

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the crap we have to go through as trans people never fails to amaze me or maybe it doesn't. we so need equal rights everywhere now.

Alex: You say:

"I wonder what would have happened if he had tried to marry a man?"

That, dear Alex, is WHY we clearly need a national constitutional amendment to end this nonsense.

One that says: "Only a man-with-a-penis may marry a woman-with-a-vagina. A legal status where either (1) a man has no penis or has instead something resembling but is not factually a vagina or (2) a woman has no vagina or has something resembling but is not factually a penis or (3) neither or both parties have anything which a true follower of Jesus Christ would consider accemptable professional practice under the the Plumbing Codes."

Think that would do it?

Oops.....meant to add that such a legal status would NOT BE RECOGNIZED in the United States.

Kathy Padilla | December 29, 2010 10:47 AM

The circumstances were a bit more upsetting for the happy couple then just having the paperwork denied prospectively:

"Hours after marrying his girlfriend at the Oakland County courthouse, 25-year-old Jordan Swan says he received a phone call from the court explaining his marriage certificate had been voided because, in the eyes of the law, he is not a man."

This raises the question of what ID he provided and whether they require different ID from transsexuals than others. Are all people required to produce a birth cert? Unlikely.

Fortunately - he can change his BC in Michigan according to the more extensive report.

"Michigan allows individuals to apply for a new birth certificate following sex-reassignment surgery. Absent that documentation, courts view a case like Swan's as a request for a same-sex marriage, which remains illegal under a Constitutional amendment approved by Michigan voters in 2004."

"If a doctor signs an affidavit that says you've had the sex reassignment, you can take that to the courthouse and you can get a new birth certificate," explained Fox 2 legal analyst Charlie Langton. "You don't need a penis to become a man."

Although what procedure exactly is acceptable seems to be unclear. And the equivalent procedure to Mr. Swan's for a transsexual women may not be acceptable.

The varying requirements across states to change ID - especially BC's - make the new Federal Passport Policies that much more important for trans peoples.

And marriage equality shouldn't just be called gay marriage - it doesn't just effect same sex unions.

um... the doctor that discovered that I'm Intersexed told me that with my biology, getting married legally would be a real hurtle. Even if I was legally a ‘guy’ any marriage I entered could be legally voided simply because I’m different when it comes to my sexual biology.

Totally sucks and blows.

All due respect, but your doctor isn't a lawyer.

And since marriage laws differ from state to state, as do requirements for changing gender markers for a variety of legal documents, to say definitively that any marriage of yours could be voided is foolish. There is no way for him to know that.

"I wonder what would have happened if he had tried to marry a man?"

There are people who have used that loophole to have a same-sex marriage when it would be illegal under different circumstances.

Your "what would have happened if he tried to marry a man" question is apt... there are a number of same sex all-trans couples where one of the partners doesn't do a legal gender change so they can be legally married.

Okay, I get why he's pissed, totally get it, but really, all he has to do is get a legal change of gender and then he can get married to his wife (in that state anyway). There are states where no legal change of gender is available (Ohio, Idaho and a few others) so you're basically in a legal Twilight Zone. Evil.

"There are states where no legal change of gender is available (Ohio, Idaho and a few others) so you're basically in a legal Twilight Zone. Evil."

Yes, evil indeed. I was born in Tennessee, that is the other state that won't allow a b c change.

The West Australia case is an interesting one, The State Of Western Australia -v- AH [2010] WASCA 172:

There is another discussion here with thirty-three comments which are for the most part thoughtful ones:

There is a lot more than marriage issues involved in this guy's marriage license travails. Most of it is about sex determination which carries over into other facets of a person's life. It is very much more complicated than penises and vaginas but the real questions are about sex determination, not gender.

I strongly believe that cases like this should not be used to challenge existing laws which do grant rights to those who have had medical procedures. I believe those people who have had qualifying medical procedures had them because they were necessary and make a difference in people's lives. Obviously, I did not have my genital surgery so I could completely live legally as the other sex. What the state of Tennessee says does not change who and what I am, regardless.

This is so complicated. I consider myself to be in a same sex marriage, as it is. Obviously I would be for same sex marriage but it is more a question of marriage equality . Sex is not a binary phenomenon. That last statement is loaded with implications for everyone, not just transsexual and intersex people for whom that understanding is crucial.

The gonadectomy requirements for legal sex change are just as complex in their implications as the nature of sex is for a lot of people. There are both intersex men and women who have lived as lived as men and women their entire lives for whom such a requirement would be oppressive. Women with complete androgyn insensitivity syndrome have to rely on exogenous hormones to develop secondary sex characteristics at puberty if their testicles are removed from the inguinal canals in their abdomens. Paradoxically, the testosterone their bodies are not able to use aromatases to estrogen which allows them to develop into, often enough, very feminine women. There are surgical procedures which are fairly often performed to make people conform to a sex of rearing. I know at least two who have had mastectomies.

I think one has to be careful about arbitrarily choosing sex assignments. I think there should be common sense applied. Sex is not about choosing an identity. I think it has to be understood, however, that sex determination is a very fuzzy science, even when it comes to those who believe themselves comfortable in their gender roles. There is no real clarity when it comes to sex, even in spite of one's reproductive capabilities.

Where people of transsexual history and marriage is involved the Grace Abrams Australian passport case is interesting. Some countries take gender reassignment very seriously.

Honestly, I look at the video of this guy and wonder how anyone with any kind of common sense could expect him to live his life as a woman and not the person he is. Regardless of how he identifies, what kind of a microscope would someone have to put him under to justify a female identity?

Kathy Padilla | December 29, 2010 3:06 PM

The complexity vanishes if the state stops enforcing sex discrimination in marriage - at least for legal purposes. Identity is another matter.

Marriage equality would be a good start. It would certainly take a lot of pressure off on the legal end of things. I think the medical establishment is in denial about a lot of things when it comes to sex determination. That has a lot of impact on many people. Then, there are deeply held traditions and biases that create unreasonable expectations which are exploited by marketers, who are dependent on people's insecurities about themselves.