Marriage equality matters a whole lot to me because, as Australia’s marriage law stands today, my honesty with the world means I’m unable to contemplate marrying the woman I love so dearly. A situation we find really quite astounding, absurd, almost amusing but certainly not funny.
I’m transgender, transsexual, I transitioned more than eight years ago – actually eight years, four months and eleven days, as I write. And that makes it exactly eight years, four months and eleven days since marriage inequality became a very real issue for me.
As a boy in the world, I had been married twice before I transitioned. In hindsight, my first marriage was probably all about me proving to the world how good I was at being a man. Not unexpectedly, it ended in divorce. The second was entirely different, based on honesty but cut short by tragic death. No matter why or how I entered into these marriages, no matter how different they were, both were perceived as perfectly acceptable by our society and our lawmakers – because I was a boy marrying a girl.
Some time after that tragic death, I decided to extend the honesty I’d shown to my late wife to the rest of the world. I began to transition, eventually living full-time as a woman and – eight years, four months and eleven days ago – undergoing the irreversible step of reassignment surgery.
During the next year, I began to realise I’d fallen in love with my friend, Jen. When I mentioned this to her, it emerged the feelings were reciprocated! Neither of us viewed our self as exclusively same-sex-attracted or heterosexual; we’d both fallen in love with an individual, a soul, a mind – not with a legally-sanctioned and approved set of genitalia. It was about loving that person as a whole, never about their sex.
We’ve now shared those feelings, and a home, for more than seven years. Along the way, we took on caring for a tiny baby who’d had a very uncertain and shaky start to life and was in need of a secure place. She turned four last week, we continue to care for her and Jen and I now share full custodial responsibilities for this small person.
For me, this story shows the truly myopic nature of our country’s marriage legislation. Despite some relatively minor, hormonally-induced movement of body fat and the surgical re-arrangement of a small part of me, I am the person I was before transitioning. In reality, I’ve just been more honest with the world. The essence of me is not a tad different to the essence of me prior to settling for honesty. In so very, very much, Martine is no different to Martin.
Yet, the me who existed before, the “now” me sans honesty, could freely enter into matrimony – holy or otherwise and as dishonestly as I wanted to be. While the “now” me cannot marry the person I love because our lawmakers maintain eligibility criteria based on a prescribed package of genitalia. It makes no sense to me.
The really silly part to me, really silly, is this – had I remained dishonest with the world, had I continued to live as Martin and had I still managed to find and fall in love with Jen, we could be married now. Jen remains Jen, a wondrous constant in my life, and – as mentioned – Martine is Martin is Martine, we are both but aspects of me. Yet, now, I cannot marry Jen.
Eight years, four months and eleven days ago marriage inequality became a very real issue for me. But, four years ago, it took on a whole new level of nastiness for Jen and myself. And, it remains so to this day. No matter how hard we work to ensure our small person knows of her birth parents and knows them, we are in oh-so-many ways her parents. It’s us, the ones who blithely shop through a supermarket temper tantrum and hold her when she wakes from dreaming and comfort her when she’s ill or saddened by her mother’s non-appearance, it’s us.
Yet, she’s growing up in a society in which those who make laws continue to send her the message that those who love and care for her are, somehow, second-rate and second-class. That no matter how strong their love, nor how great their commitment to her and each other, their sex renders them less equal than an opposite-sex couple.
Opponents of equality can keep on arguing falsehoods, denying the secular nature of our society and its marriage law, maintain their outlandish claim to the word “marriage” as the god-given title to be used only for accessories, even the metallic paint, but you can’t call it the same thing!”
But, while they do any of these things, they do two very wrong things. They tell me my love has become less worthy of society’s blessing and recognition, solely because of my sex. And, they tell our beautiful little being the two most significant people in her life are not worthy of the respect given others in this land, solely because of their sex.