TALKING TO FAMILY: Guilty of the Right to Marry
February 09, 2009Guest Blogger: Helen Boyd
When my partner first came out as trans to my family and hers, a few years after we were married in Brooklyn’s City Hall, they made sure I was happy and that the person they’d known as their son-in-law was too. They weren’t sure they could manage the change of pronouns very easily, or quickly; they wanted to know what her name would be, and what kinds of documents we would need to change. My brother who is our accountant wanted to know what this might mean for our tax status, and almost everyone asked if her transition from male to female would mean that we were no longer married.
Luckily for us, contract law in the US says we still are, and will be; as long as a contract is legal at the time it’s entered into, it remains legal. We are, as a result, a legally married same-sex couple, or a legally married queer couple, or a marriage made up of two people who, if we met now instead of 11 years ago, would probably not be legally allowed to be married.
Remarkably enough, there are plenty of couples like us in the US; it is an awful lot for the partner of a trans person to make it through transition with the trans person they love, and it would add insult to injury if we could not keep the public, legal recognition of our commitment to each other after having been through so much change together.
Remarkably enough, the sky hasn’t fallen in because we are a legally married family of two. We love our nieces and nephews, all thirteen of them, as much as ever. We love our parents and our siblings and our friends as much as ever, and they love us, and not one has ever considered that we shouldn’t be married, which is as it should be. What we are is tired of feeling so guilty, and so lucky. If everyone were granted the Freedom to Marry, we wouldn’t have to be.
Helen Boyd is an author, educator and publisher of the blog My Husband Betty.