37.Submission from Ann and Kathleen
1. Re Gender Recognition Bill, Section 3,
CERTIFICATES, requiring existing marriages to be annulled or dissolved
as a condition for issue of a gender recognition certificate.
2. We, Ann and Kathleen, are a legally married
couple. Kathleen underwent "social gender reassignment"
in 1983 and "surgical sex reassignment" in 1991. This
submission is written by and on behalf of ourselves.
3. Having vowed to remain married for life
no matter what circumstances befell us, to date we have kept our
promises to each other for thirty two years. Now in our early
50s and being parents and grandparents, our responsibilities extend
further than merely to each other, particularly believing so firmly
in family values.
4. When Kathleen began reassignment twenty
years ago many people were, in ignorance, hostile towards the
condition, transsexualism, yet of all the people we spoke to,
some of whom were quick to condemn "sex change treatment",
only one persona psychiatristsuggested that we should
divorce. During the twenty years since, the only other person
to have agreed with him has been whoever inserted this peculiarly
unique clause into the draft Gender Recognition Bill. It is not
that the idea hasn't entered other people's minds; there have
been occasions when we have asked others what they thought of
our on-going marriage. People from all walks of life have responded
that they think it's marvellous that we have remained intact.
5. Further, for some considerable time following
our appearances on day-time national television in the early 1990s,
strangers approached us to congratulate us on our on-going togetherness.
We are aware of no support within society at large for any obligation
for us to divorce. On the contrary, we are aware of a large general
feeling that we should not be required to divorce. Suddenly people
are now saying that if Government truly wishes to consider transsexualism
to be like any other medical condition, it must be seen to treat
it in the same way.
6. When our children were young, social
workers monitored our family for fear of what might happen to
our little ones. Their conclusions were that our "family
unit is better balanced than most" (we have had to work harder
at it). A large proportion of our coevals, who were never transsexual,
have not kept their marriages intact. And Government now wishes
to destabilise this, our family unit.
7. Government now proposes to give Kathleen
equality with everyone else by first obliging her to do something
it has never obliged anybody else to do: divorce. This bargain
is cruel and absurd. We do not wish to terminate our marriage.
8. Having supported each other through extraordinary
circumstances, we are also deeply concerned that this clause sends
worrying signals to society that marriage has no sanctity, that
promises are made to be broken, that contracts are worthless,
and that "let no man drive them asunder" is perceived
by Government as irrelevant and, by extension, marriage itself
9. If the reason for this clause is that
Government fears never-transsexual same-sex couples will wish
to emulate us, we would point out that this has not been an issue
during the past twenty years. "Never-trans" same-sex
couples do not see us in the same way that they see each other,
because we did not marry as a same-sex couple. They are quick
to draw distinctions between our situation and their own for that
10. Ann sums up the situation so: why should
my marital status be challenged just because my spouse suffered
a medical condition? Had she become insane and dangerous or had
she lost her genitalia to a disease or accident nobody would suggest
my status be changed. I have done nothing wrong and neither has
she. This clause suggests that the Government is still setting
transsexualism apart from all other conditions and so is still
discriminating against not only those people who have or had the
condition, but now also against their spouses and entire families.
We married legally, and for life.
11. Should we divorce as required by this
clause in order for Kathleen to gain equality with others, then
Government will have discriminated against us as it does not require
persons with any other condition to divorce in order to retain
privacy and so on. Should we not divorce because we do not wish
to, then Government will discriminate against us by refusing genuine
recognition of Kathleen's gender (although gender cannot be altered
9 September 2003
58 The authors of this memorandum provided their full
names and addresses but asked for them not to be published. Back