UK transsexuals may marry, conditionally
Michael McDonough | February 13, 2004
LONDON — Legislation allowing transsexuals to obtain new birth
certificates and marry in their adoptive gender received approval
from Britain's upper chamber of Parliament on Tuesday.
The Gender Recognition Bill, which the House of Lords passed by
155 votes to 57, next goes to the House of Commons and is expected
to come into force in 2005.
Transsexuals seeking legal recognition of their new gender will
have to provide evidence that they intend to live fully and
permanently in that gender, but they will not have to undergo sex
The proposed gender recognition would be authorized by a panel
of legal and medical experts. Registrars and other professionals
involved would be under a legal obligation not to divulge the fact
that a person had changed gender.
However, under the proposed measures, churches would be allowed
to ask a prospective marriage partner if he or she had changed
gender. If they found the answer unsatisfactory, they could refuse
to conduct the marriage.
Sports governing bodies would also be allowed to make special
rules for transsexual competitors.
Britain's estimated 5,000 transsexuals may currently change
their gender on their passports, driving licenses and medical
cards, but cannot obtain a new birth certificate or marry in their
Under the new measures, transsexuals will need to show they have
been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a condition characterized by
intense feelings of being the wrong gender, in order to obtain
substitute birth certificates.
Until now, Britain has been one of a handful of European nations
that refuse to let transsexual people officially change the gender
on their birth certificate.
Europe's top court ruled last month that restricting marriage
and pension rights for transsexuals violates European Union law.
The ruling by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg will
apply to all EU countries, including the 10 mainly eastern European
nations joining in May.
Transgender activists in the United States have in recent years
highlighted uncertainty about the validity of marriages involving
transsexuals and difficulties in changing the sex designation on
birth certificates. – Sapa-AP
UK transsexuals get the right to marry in new gender [04/12/2003]