Monday, May 16, 2011

The Timeline: Part 3

One year and nine months after coming out to me, 364 days after starting testosterone, and eight months after having top surgery, Mr. FW officially became a 'mister' in the eyes of the law.

{It's Mr. FW}
With guidance from the super helpful information provided by the Transgender Law Center, Mr. FW worked with his medical doctor for several weeks to draft a letter with all of the very precise language needed to satisfy the requirements of both federal (social security, passport) and state (court, DMV, birth certificate) agencies. With the letter and a lot of other forms firmly in hand, he was assigned a court date for his legal name and gender change hearing. We went together to court that day along with probably fifteen other people. Many were women changing their names and/or their kids' names due to marriage or divorce, some were just changing their first name to something they preferred better, and two people were there to change their name and gender.

The 'hearing' was quick. Just a minute at the microphone in front of the judge (and everyone else in the room), and half an hour later we walked out of there with a several certified copies of the court order that would very literally change our lives. For starters, Mr. FW could begin the tedious and annoying process of applying for new identity documents and changing his name on all of his accounts. For those of you who've changed your name before, I'm sure you recall the hours and hours of time you spent reading and filling out paperwork.

{a small sampling of said paperwork}

So the court order allowed Mr. FW to get new documents, yes, but it also had other important and mind-bending ramifications for our relationship. Now that he was legally male, we could legally get married. It's what I like to call the Marriage Loophole. Before we went to court that morning we were a lesbian couple in the eyes of the law, with no ability to access the rights and responsibilities of state-sanctioned marriage. But within just half an hour in front of a judge, well, then we could totally get married just like any other heterosexual couple. Same two people, same relationship, same genetic hardware - but now we could be official. (And just for fyi's sake, the Marriage Loophole usually works in the other direction as well, depending on the state. If one member of a married heterosexual couple transitions genders, that couple is allowed to remain legally married even though they will appear to the world as a gay or lesbian couple because their marriage was legal at the time it took place.)

image via Wikipedia

Having the power to choose whether or not to make our union legal is something I'd never dreamed of and it really made me evaluate my thoughts and feelings about marriage - what it means, what its purpose is, and how I feel about accessing it. Because I've stood on the other side of that marriage dividing line I can honestly say there is enormous privilege in being able to make that choice (something I'd assumed before, but hadn't felt firsthand until recently). That's a bigger topic deserving of its own post, though. For now I'm concentrating on a post answering your remaining questions before I get back to the nitty gritties of our of our wedding planning process.

Did you know about the Marriage Loophole? If you're a person who has access to legal marriage, would you ever consider having a ceremony without necessarily making it legal?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.