Trans Lesbians Wed in Britain

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday October 29, 2011

It's a story of lifetime commitment that crosses gender lines: Two British trans lesbians married after one of them had gender reassignment surgery, reported British newspaper the Daily Mail on Oct. 27.

The couple had been living as a lesbian pair for years, but neither had undergone gender reassignment surgery until now, the newspaper account said. Both Jenny-Anne Bishop and Elen Heart had previously been married to women and had fathered children before beginning to live and dress as women.

When they first met in 2004, Jenny-Anne, now 65, and Elen, now 68, were both gay men. Later, they both identified as transgender and began to live as women, considering themselves to be lesbians. Jenny-Anne eventually had gender reassignment surgery, and the two wed.

The Daily Mail described the couple as both having dressed in female garb for the ceremony, though Elen--whose two previous marriages comprised a total of 27 years--was referred to as "the groomness" and their civil marriage was sealed with the declaration that they were now "husband and wife." At a subsequent church ceremony, however, they were declared to be "wife and wife."

"The law has seen us go from a gay couple, to a lesbian couple, to a heterosexual couple who can get married," Jerry-Anne, whose marriage to a woman earlier in life had lasted 31 years, told the press, "but basically we are just two people who love each other and wanted to publicly declare and celebrate our relationship.

"We want to encourage other transgender couples to celebrate their relationships and uniqueness," Jerry-Anne added.

Civil unions are available for same-sex couples in Great Britain, but full-fledged marriage is not. However, same-sex couples that enter into civil unions are considered to be spouses.

Eight states in America have extended marriage rights to gay and lesbian families, though in two of those states--California in 2008 and Maine in 2009--voters curtailed the marriage rights of their gay and lesbian fellow citizens through ballot initiatives.

A recent Texas court decision stripped a widow of her survivor's benefits after her firefighter husband was killed because she was a transwoman. Although the widow was legally a woman, the court found that her marriage was not valid in Texas because she had previously been a man, and Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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