Rant alert. Yes. (Contains some strong language.)
As the British government meanders its ambivalent way towards making some kind of decision, before the end of this year, on the matter of equal marriage in the UK (or in England and Wales, anyway, since Scotland is making its own mind up at some point), I ponder the labyrinthine hilarity of the current situation, from a trans perspective.
By way of background, my own story so far (sorry in advance for all the acronyms!): I’m currently in the middle of a MTF gender transition. Until I get a piece of paper called a GRC (Gender Recognition Certificate), for the purposes of marriage and tax I’m still legally considered male. It is possible to get a GRC without having GCS (Gender Confirmation Surgery†), but in practice it’s much easier post-surgery (the world still being very genitals-oriented when it comes to thinking about gender).
If I’d got it together to transition earlier in life, things would have got very interesting (in all sorts of ways! – but let’s stick to the marriage situation). Let’s pretend I transitioned in the 80’s (if I’d been less messed up, it would have been then). In this imaginary scenario, if I’d wanted to get married…
Since 2004 and the inception of those two Acts: without a GRC, my two “choices” would be to marry a woman, or to “enter into a civil partnership” with a man. If I had a GRC, my “choices” would be the exact opposite – to marry a man, or “enter into a civil partnership” with a woman.
Behold the labyrinth.
Without a GRC, as a “man”, I’d be considered in a same-sex relationship, if with a man. With a GRC, as a woman, I’d be considered in a same-sex relationship, if with a woman. In either case, as things stand, my country won’t let me marry – instead merely allowing me the business-transaction-sounding “civil partnership.” Same person, different piece of paper, opposite rules, and all orbiting around religiously-inspired homophobia.
So as things stand, trans people who are married and then change their “legal” gender via GRC are obliged to annul their marriage. They can then only “enter into a civil partnership” with their ex-spouse. And the opposite is true too; someone who’s in a civil partnership and then gets a GRC has to annul their civil partnership, but is then allowed to marry their partner.
This is all, and I cannot stress this enough, fucking ridiculous. It would be funny, if it weren’t so oppressive and offensive.
The fact that the country finally got it right (more or less) on the gender recognition front back in 2004, and yet is still stuck in some weird gender-matters-to-marriage universe that causes all this chaos, is fucking ridiculous. The Gender Recognition Act itself demonstrates with crystal clarity just how nominal, how contingent, the whole concept of one-man-and-one-woman is, when it comes to marriage.
Many of those opposing same-sex marriage really like to pretend that this is not a homophobia issue, but in some mysterious way, a non-homophobic this-word-means-this-one-thing-only issue, a semantics issue, an etymology issue. They’re kidding no-one except themselves. Many of the rest, who are more honest with themselves, think same-sex marriage will bring down society. Because opposite-sex marriage clearly has such an unblemished record for upholding moral values, blah drone. They’re kidding no-one except themselves.
Come on, Britain – get your shit together and level it all out. I think I’d like to be able to marry a woman, as a woman, once this is all over and I have (what I consider to be) the right body. Well, I’d like to have the choice, anyway, instead of this inconsistent Choice Lite™ crap you’ve been dangling in front of us.
Disclaimer: I was married, back when I was still pretending to be a man. It didn’t work out, as 1 in 2 don’t, apparently. So in some ways, this really can’t be about how great marriage is, because it so often isn’t. What it is about is withholding choice from a selected social group, on the basis of prejudice. You can’t tell people: we no longer consider you mentally ill, and we no longer consider you illegal – but you still don’t deserve the rights we have. Stop pissing about.
†Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS) – is also known as SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery) or GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery) but I prefer GCS as a term; “reassignment” sounds like something that’s being decided for me, not something I’m having done as a confirmation of true gender.
[Epithalamion is a lovely Greek word, meaning a song or poem in celebration of a wedding.
By the way, I am aware of, and amused by, the irony of using the † symbol, which looks like a cross (though it’s actually known as the dagger or obelisk), in this blog-thing, in place of asterisks for footnotes – it’s just that the asterisks looked naff without superscript, and I don’t know how to invoke superscript in this blogware.]