06 May 2011

Putting the "Lone" in "The Lone Star State"

Most states allow a transgendered person to get a court order to change his or her legal gender.  That court order can, in turn, be used to get a driver's license and other documentation with the person's "new" gender. It can also be used to get a marriage license.

Some states require that a person undergo Genital Reconstructive Surgery (GRS).  Others merely require certification from a doctor that the person suffers from Gender Identity Disorder (GID) or a related condition.  Here in New York, I was able to get such an order after obtaining letters from my doctor and therapist saying that I was receiving treatment, which included my therapy sessions and hormones.  That allowed me to get a non-driver's ID with an "F" in the space for "sex" before I had my surgery.

Texas was one of the last states in this country to provide such an avenue for transgendered people, having done so only two years ago.  Now some of that state's legislators are, in effect, trying to nullify it, at least in part, with a new piece of legislation.  

State Senator Tommy Williams and Representative Lois Kolkhorst have introduced a bill that would prohibit county and district clerks from allowing court orders recognizing sex changes to be used as part of the necessary documentation for obtaining a marriage license.  

If the legislation is passed, Texas would be saying, in effect, that a person's gender is assigned at birth and can never be changed, even if that person's mind and spirit are incongruent with it.   At least, that's what the state would be saying for the purposes of marriage.  And, because the Texas constitution defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, it would mean that, as an example, if I were living in Texas, I could marry only as a man, and that I couldn't marry anyone who is not a woman.  

Now, that may seem like an academic question for me, as I don't plan on getting married or living in Texas any time soon.  But, of course, that is a not-so-academic question for any number of transgender people living in the Lone Star state.  

But this development is most worrisome for an admittedly small (at least relatively speaking) group of transgendered Texans.  They are the ones who were married during the past two years.  If the bill is passed, what will happen to them?  Will their marriages be nullified?  

Ironically, Representative Kolkhorst authored the 2009 law that allows sex change documentation to be used in obtaining marriage licenses.  So far, she hasn't said why she wants to, in essence, reverse her own legislation.