Hong Kong Transsexual Woman Fights Marriage Ban
A transsexual woman took the Hong Kong government to court on Monday in an unprecedented bid to marry in her new gender.
August 9, 2010 /LGBT News/ The Chinese male-to-female transsexual (20s), identified as "W" under court order, was denied the right to marry her male partner by Hong Kong's Registrar of Marriages last year because her birth certificate still identified her as a man, the Sunday Morning Post said.
The case underscores the uncertainty of marriage law when it comes to people who have changed their biological gender in the socially conservative ethnic Chinese community.
The woman is one of a small number of people to have undergone sex change surgery in a Hong Kong public hospital, her hormone therapy and sex change surgery were paid for by the government, and she has obtained a new identity card and school certificates stating she is female.
But the city's Registrar of Marriages ruled last year that she could not marry her boyfriend because her birth certificate -- which could not be changed under Hong Kong law -- says that she is still a man.
"On the one hand, the government has recognised the rights of transgender people by having in place for years a system of gender support and the provision of sex-reassignment surgery," her lawyer Mike Vidler said.
"Yet on the other, they want to stop a person who has been living as a woman for several years - with their help and assistance - enjoying the same rights as other women. This is not a back-door step towards same-sex marriage, it is simply a case of allowing a couple to express their love for each other and live life together as a married couple." he added.
Speaking to BBC, "W" said she is determined to fight for her rights.
"I don't want to go to other countries to marry. I am a Hong Kong citizen. I have a right to marry here. The Hong Kong government allows us to have the sex change, but they don't allow us to marry. But for women to want to get married to the person they love is just normal," "W" said.A Department of Justice spokeswoman said the court hearing was scheduled to last two days.
"This is the first case to reach the High Court which involves a transsexual seeking to marry in the acquired gender," she said.
Transgender marriage is permitted in many European countries and some U.S. states. In Asia, countries that allow it include Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and mainland China, according to Prof. Sam Winter at the University of Hong Kong, who studies transgender issues.
"On sexual matters, Hong Kong is a fairly conservative society. In this case, the government clearly takes the view that W is a man, and it is afraid stiff of opening the door to same-sex marriage," Winter said. "But W is a woman and should be regarded as a woman and should be given the rights of a woman to a heterosexual marriage."
The government's position effectively means that W, though anatomically a woman, can only be allowed to marry another woman, Winter said. "That is a fairly delicious irony that comes out of the government's policy."Photo: Trey Ratcliff