So there we go. People are no longer banned from marrying a man to a man or a woman to a woman. Which is nice. I’m usually against banning things. But people aren’t just not gay or gay, are they? What about everyone else?
I saw this piece on Liberal Conspiracy titled “To be technically correct, the Queen did not approve Equal Marriage” and I thought “good, something about trans people getting fucked over.” But the piece was about parliamentary procedure. Which is so boring I can’t even be bothered to think of a simile. Wood, sometimes people drill holes in wood. Something like that, but more dull.
Do many of my readers think about trans people? Probably not, but you should because if you care about injustice or human suffering and you’re a good Rawlsian (and who isn’t a little) then you should be interested in helping the worst off. That, sadly, usually means trans people, but you might not do that because they’re so often erased from more or less everything.
Now, because nothing says empathy like dry statistics:
- 79% of trans people have experienced some form of harassment in public.
- 26% of trans people in Brighton and Hove are unemployed according to a Count Me In Too survey, and with a further 60% earn less than £10,000 per year (via).
- 41% of trans people in the US have attempted suicide.
- And so on ad infinitum…
So if you care about the least fortunate, then you should care about trans people and if you don’t you probably have to think about why and how you can fix that. But before you can help anyone or understand why trans people were thrown under the bus by the equal marriage bill, you’ll need a little context.
Via Sarah Brown (via stavvers) here’s a potted history of what happened. I apologise for anything I get wrong here. In 1971 a judge prevented trans people from claiming the rights associated with their new gender, leaving them in limbo without the rights of the gender they started off with, nor the ones from where they ended up.
This was only partially reversed in 2004 with the Gender Recognition Act 2004 which created Gender Recognition Certificates which got you a new birth certificate, and the other protections in law that you lost by transitioning (e.g. employment nondiscrimination rights).
Various onerous and excessive caveats and time-determined limits were added to the bill because fuck you that’s why (that’s a summary which I hope I’ve paraphrased correctly). The worst of which was that you weren’t eligible for a GRC if you were married. What the act did let you do was get a marriage annulment, apply to get your gender reassigned then apply for a civil partnership. Because fuck you that’s why (again I paraphrase).
Trans people campaigned hard to get this injustice fixed within the Equal Marriage bill and failed. They’ve ended up with a “spousal veto.” You can now have your gender reassigned while married but your marriage only continues only with your spouse’s permission. I guess this is to prevent people from accidentally ending up gay married which is all icky and stuff.
The government are of course attempting to balance the rights of trans people and their spouses. The best place to balance this is on the backs of trans people because fuck you that’s why. Is it really so important to justice and fairness that people who have been fucked over again and again get fucked over some more. Yes, it seems.
Look, I won’t be churlish (well no more than usual), I’m happy this law reduces the number of things which are banned. It actually sounds like it does improve the position of trans people. But, c’mon, Equal Marriage? It’s a cute bit of branding but it’s still bullshit.
PS Of course there’s also the polyamorous. They aren’t allowed to marry who they want because there might be more than one of them. But then they don’t tend to like marriage anyway.
PPS Oh yeah, there’s people who don’t want to marry at all. Is a world where everyone can marry everyone else one are people who don’t marry really likely to be treated equally?
PPPS There’s also straight civil partnerships to consider. But I haven’t really written about them because shut up, shut up, shut up, stop whining.