Transgender and marriage. Dealing with transgender issues.
Transgender is a term used for people who feel their real gender is different from their birth gender. The Gender Identity Research and Education Society estimates that about 1% of the British population are gender nonconforming to some degree. Around 20% of them are likely to seek medical treatment at some stage. The numbers of trans boys and trans girls are about equal.
For centuries they were mainly a hidden minority, afraid to come out for fear of losing their partners, families, friends, jobs and lives as they knew them. Equality laws and media coverage and publicity have improved the situation but unfortunately transgender people can still be misunderstood in society and can face prejudice or bullying.
The Human Rights Act 1998 protects the privacy and dignity of gender variant children and adults. This protects people from being called by the wrong name, or being mis-gendered, or being made to use the wrong toilets. The Equality Act 2010 effectively makes being a trans person a “protected characteristic” on the grounds of which it is illegal to discriminate against someone.
The Gender Recognition Act 2004 allows trans people people to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. This allows trans people to be issued a new birth certificate and to be legally recognised in their preferred gender. This includes the right to marry someone of the opposite gender, or to form a civil partnership with someone of the same gender, and to retire and receive state pension at the age appropriate to the acquired gender. A person whose birth was registered in the United Kingdom will also be able to obtain a new Birth Certificate showing his or her recognised legal gender.
A trans person applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate needs to be 18 years of age or older. All applications to obtain a certificate go to a Gender Recognition Panel. Applicants for a Gender Recognition Certificate must show that they:
- have, or have had, gender dysphoria (an overwhelming desire to live in the opposite gender to that which a person has been registered at birth)
- have lived fully for the last two years in their acquired gender; and
- intend to live permanently in their acquired gender.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 provides for same-sex marriages with equal legal status to different-sex marriages. Where a party to a marriage transitions, the trans partner can obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate and the marriage can be converted to a same-sex or different-sex marriage, as appropriate. However, this requires the consent of the non-trans party to the marriage. Where that consent is withheld, the trans person involved will only be able to obtain an interim Gender Recognition Certificate (which confers no legal rights regarding gender recognition). A full Gender Recognition Certificate would only be obtainable following divorce.
At Emmersons Solicitors we’re here to advise regarding Transgender and Marriage issues.
If you have children legal recognition in your acquired gender will not affect your legal status as the father or mother of your children. Your rights and responsibilities as a parent of your children will be unaffected.
This legislation has helped to safeguard but choosing to transition is still not a decision that people make lightly. Family and friends often go through a very difficult time when their loved one tells them that he or she is trans. Feelings of shock, denial and grief and frequently reported. It takes time for partners and other family members to realise that being trans does not change the person. Coming to terms with one’s own trans identity it is not easy. They may be particularly anxious and sensitive and choose to distance themselves from those closest to them. Feelings of guilt are also commonplace. Emotions might run high and family and friends may struggle to see their loved one suffering not knowing how best to support them through something they are themselves finding hard to understand and come to terms with. Being honest and open about our feelings is not easy, but it is necessary, essential; even, if all members of the family are to be given an opportunity to express themselves and be heard.
At Emmersons we have helped many people who are separating as a result of one partner’s transition. We can assist in formally bringing their marriage to an end and resolving associated financial and children matters with the upmost understanding.
If you feel that you need help regarding transgender, separation and marriage, please contact us now for an initial chat:
If you think that this applies to you then contact us for to arrange a ‘Next Steps’ Divorce Advice Session.
Book your ‘Next Steps’ Divorce Advice Session at our Newcastle office: 0191 284 6989
Book your ‘Next Steps’ Divorce Advice Session at our Sunderland office: 0191 567 6667
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