Transgender people have a long history of being denied the right to marry and having their partnerships and marriages disrespected. When same-sex couples were given the legal right to marry around the world, it was a great day for transgender people of all sexual orientations, since the right to marry had become gender-blind.
The type of marriage allowed to transgender people depends on how gender is defined in law by each country or region. Gender may be defined by the XY sex-determination system, the physical reproductive organs, the type of external sexual features, or the person's gender identification. This means that transgender individuals may be legally categorised so that they are prohibited from marrying partners of the opposite sex to their assigned birth gender or permitted to marry partners of the same sex as their assigned birth gender.
In the last few years, legal judgments have been passed in several countries that ensure that transgender individuals who transition after getting married do not have to go through the process of divorce and remarriage to have their gender reflected accurately in their identity documents.
There are some countries, where marriage does not require a distinction of male and female to be made, so there are no complications about planning a wedding. In Nepal, an official change of gender can be either female, male or other. In 2015, Monika Shahi Nath, born and raised as a boy in rural Nepal, was issued with an identity card and passport with an ‘O’ for ‘other’ gender designation. In May 2017, Nath became Nepal’s first transgender person to be issued with a marriage certificate by district officials, even though the country has no formal laws for such unions.
In the United Kingdom, a person who has lived in their chosen gender for at least two years can receive a gender recognition certificate that legally recognises their new gender. For those already married at the time of making the application, it is possible to stay married, unless the marriage is registered under the law of Northern Ireland. If you or your spouse do not want to remain married, an ‘interim certificate’ is issued as grounds to end the marriage and in England or Wales, a full certificate is only issued once the marriage is ended. In Scotland, you do not need to end the marriage first. With a gender recognition certificate, transgender people can enter or re-enter civil partnerships or marriages in accordance with their newly recognised gender identity.
Across Europe marriage rules for transgender people have been relaxed with the introduction of same-sex marriage. In Austria, transsexual people no longer have to divorce before having their legal gender corrected. In Quebec, you no longer have to be single to apply for a legal change of gender, which is now the same in Sweden which in 2013 also dropped the provision that change of gender had to include sterilisation.
Same-sex marriage is legally recognised nationally or in some regions of the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria (1 January 2019), Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Uruguay.
Same-sex marriage is also due to become soon legally performed and recognized in Taiwan (24 May 2019) and Costa Rica (May 2020). and remains under consideration by the government or courts in Chile, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, several states in Mexico, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Switzerland and Venezuela. Same-sex marriages are also recognised in some countries where it remains illegal. These include Armenia and Israel and is being considered in Paraguay, Monaco, Poland, Romania and Thailand.
Whilst other countries such as Belarus, Dominica, Georgia, Grenada, Guyana and Jamaica forbid the legalisation of same-sex marriage, there is room for movement. In Bulgaria, a court granted a same-sex couple the right to live in Bulgaria on 29 June 2018. The couple, an Australian woman and her French spouse, had married in France in 2016 but were originally denied residency in Bulgaria a year later.
For many starting the transition journey, after potentially years of being made to feel ugly and unworthy of love, a major concern is wondering if finding love is ever going to be possible.