Joint Committee On Human Rights Written Evidence

27.Submission from E[55]

  I largely welcome the UK Government's Draft Gender Recognition Bill for its foresight in helping such transsexuals as myself with the prospect of integrating into society under my true gender. However, there is one aspect of it that is causing my wife and I a great deal of concern and that is in the field of pre-existing marriages.


  Under the current Draft, in order for me to acquire a Gender Recognition Certificate, I will have to divorce my wife. The irony of the situation is that I have been married to her for 24 years and been together with her for 30 years. Admittedly, due to the lack of knowledge, fear and phobias in our society during my life, I have had to disguise my true nature very effectively. However, when my father died last year, I effectively began to unravel. I had gone through bad patches before, but this was one that I found was too big to handle and it was due to the love and understanding of my wife that I was able to at last tell her about my dysphoria. Although naturally upset at my revelation, she has rallied by my side and is as adamant as I that I should go ahead with transition and that the family should remain together.

  Over the past few months her unselfish love and support has been a godsend to me, but when I consider the future, I cannot help but think that the very act that is going to "free" me is going to cause such pain to those that I love dearly. I have always been attracted to females as opposed to males, so with a male body it was easy to marry my wife without any legal concerns. Now we have a beautiful relationship, two lovely children and yet all is threatened by the fact that I will be required to divorce them or not be allowed to register my rightful gender. What a horrible and cruel choice to have to make for me and how particularly unfair an option for my wife and family who have done nothing wrong and wish to remain as much as we are through what will undoubtedly be trying times ahead. I strongly feel that the Government have not given due consideration to the increased stress and guilt a divorce will produce, nor thought through the interests of the spouse and children who are effectively being penalised.

  Like the responsible body it is, I notice that in their "Submission Regarding the Draft Gender Recognition Bill" that Press For Change have discussed this very issue, providing a sensible recommendation to consider. I quote their point C.2.m:

    "In our submissions to the Interdepartmental Working Group in 1999 and 2000, PFC recommended that the extent of the "problem" could be readily contained by legislating a cut off in pre-existing marriages which could be allowed to continue. That is, marriages already contracted for a certain time (eg five years) at the time of the legislation coming into force could be exempted from the requirement to be dissolved. Normal attrition then means that the number of such marriages would diminish over time, and there would be less ability to try and draw parallels between this exception of trans couples remaining married and same sex couples wanting to marry."

  Without this chance for the future, I know that I cannot go on living a good, constructive life. I understand that this will concern only about two to three dozen families, but you must surely understand the immense trauma that these families would face if forced to break up. It would take relatively little legislation in the scheme of things to keep these families as close and caring as they been so far with the trans partner happier in the knowledge that his transition is not going to tear apart such a relationship. Please accept this submission with apologies for I fully realise that with these words, you shall judge the whole future of my family.

22 September 2003

55   The author of this memorandum provided their full name and address but they have not been printed. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2003
Prepared 4 December 2003