Transgender Marriage: Legalities and Challenges to Consider When You Tie The Knot Transgender Marriage: Legalities and Challenges to Consider When You Tie The Knot
On January 6, 2015, Florida became the 36th U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriages. By mid-year, the Supreme Court will decide once and... Transgender Marriage: Legalities and Challenges to Consider When You Tie The Knot

On January 6, 2015, Florida became the 36th U.S. state to legally recognize same-sex marriages. By mid-year, the Supreme Court will decide once and for all on the constitutional legality of all same-sex marriages in the United States. Activists have been working toward this legal recognition of same-sex marriages for many years, and it is important to understand that transgender men and women have been active in this same struggle right alongside of gays and lesbians.

To understand the significance and the issues of transgender men and women who want and need their marriage to be legally recognized, it’s important to understand that transgender people can be gay or lesbian, as well as heterosexual, and many face an additional and unique set of challenges not generally encountered by gay and lesbian couples, this is why specialist law firms have been created with some of the best family law practitioners to tackle ever-evolving new problems in the same-sex marriage and divorce debate such as Peters May – Specialist Divorce & Family lawyers in Mayfair, London.

The Challenges

When a transgender man or woman is legally recognized as their affirmed gender, and their identity documents reflect this, they can generally legally marry a person considered to be the “opposite” gender. But if they are gay or lesbian and wish to marry, they can only be legally wed if they are within a state that recognizes same-sex marriages.

Think about what happens when identity documents don’t match a person’s gender. If a transgender man wishes to marry a biological woman, and he is not recognized by a state or government entity to be a man, then it’s considered to be a “same-sex” relationship in the eyes of the law. If a transgender woman who is legally recognized as a female wishes to marry a transman who has not had his identity documents changed, then the marriage is once again considered “same-sex.” What about a transgender man who is legally recognized as a male who wants to marry his biologically male boyfriend? It’s considered a same-sex marriage, of course.

These are just a few examples that transgender people often confront when simply trying to marry the person they love, and the same-sex marriage issue encompasses much more than just the ability to marry, as most gay and lesbian couples already know. It can affect not only the ability to legally marry the person they love, but also any spousal benefits, inheritance rights, custody disputes and the division of marital property in case of divorce. Add to this the issues that come up when a transgender person’s legal documents don’t accurately reflect his or her gender.

Proving Your Identity

Getting legal documents changed to reflect your new name and gender is not always easy or even possible. To get married in some states, you are required to show your birth certificate. In most U.S. states, getting a birth certificate changed to your new name and gender is possible, though not always uncomplicated. In a few states, however, it’s not an option to change the gender marker on your birth certificate. This means you’ll need to come up with additional legal documents to prove your identity, such as a passport or government-issued ID that shows your birth date and social security number. Then you have to hope the document(s) will be accepted by the clerk.

Although some states will change a birth certificate to reflect the new gender if one can produce a court-order specifying the gender change, others will only recognize a gender change if one has had gender reassignment surgery. The Federal Government ruled in 2013, as far as Social Security is concerned that surgery is not necessary to change one’s gender with them. According to Lambda Legal, “courts in Texas and Kansas have ruled in marriage cases that no amount of surgery, document changes or time spent living in accordance with one’s gender identity is enough to alter a person’s gender in the eyes of the law.”

If a couple has been married for any length of time, and one begins the process of gender transition during the marriage, what happens to the legal status of the marriage? According to some unions, insurance companies and other benefit providers, the marriage, in their eyes, suddenly isn’t “valid” any longer, meaning they refuse to acknowledge it and therefore are no longer financially bound to pay out in the case of retirement, disability or death. There have also been instances of some state courts invalidating marriages where one spouse is transgender, claiming one’s chromosomes or inspection of anatomy at birth is what determines one’s sex, and no amount of medical intervention (surgery, hormone replacement therapy, etc.) will change this.

This is just a short list of issues that transgender men and women face when they wish to marry the person they love. There are a surplus of other considerations, hoops, and loopholes that many have to struggle with in order to get married, stay married, and embrace the benefits of marriage in the eyes of the law.

Getting Married? Protect Yourselves

For transgender men and women who are considering marriage, there are several measures you can take in order to ensure the same protections that non-transgender couples enjoy, such as creating a Last Will and Testament for both spouses, and financial and medical powers of attorney in which each spouse designates the other to be his or her legal agent. These documents can all be completed with the help of a New Jersey estate planning attorney prior to the wedding.

Along with these documents, follow civil rights Attorney Shannon Minter’s advice and create “a written personal relationship agreement including a detailed account of each spouse’s rights and responsibilities with regard to finances, property, support, children, and any other issues that are important to the couple. The agreement should also include an acknowledgment that the non-transgender partner is aware that his or her spouse is transgender, to avoid any later claims of fraud or deception.”

The Good News

Many transgender men and women do get married legally. These men and women have found their life partners and have made the time-honored commitment to love and cherish each other through good times and bad times.

Love transpires regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, political party, immigration status, religion or disability. It just happens, and there is no amount of legal, religious or political persuasion that is able to prevent two people from feeling the emotional high of loving each other.

America has come a very long way in the last 11 years in the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people to marry the person they love. Someday the struggles and barriers will cease to be issues, and it will be the one of the biggest civil liberties victory of the century.

Many people simply see the stance of being as such as something to be viewed on – a solely sexual choice. This is not even close to the truth, and is a demeaning stance to take, regardless of if one enjoys the subject matter sexually or not. The thing is, homosexual and transgender porn videos on adult sites like are much more sought after than people would make out to be, even by the people that would be the first to shout “No I’m definitely straight” – it’s about time marriage legality see’s the light.

Michael Eric Brown


Transgender People and Marriage Laws

FAQ About Transgender People and Marriage Law

Transgender Persons and Marriage: The Importance of Legal Planning

Littleton v. Prange (1999)

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