The great Texas transgender debacle

It appears that Texas lawmakers are now trying to cover their tracks after “accidentally” allowing transgender marriage to be legal in their state.

It appears that Texas lawmakers are now trying to cover their tracks after “accidentally” allowing transgender marriage to be legal in their state.

Two years ago, the legislature passed a law that allowed, under certain circumstances, transgender couples to marry. Yet, the state’s politicians generally take a strong stance against same-sex marriages.

In the course of trying to correct their “slip up,” the state could end up denying couples their marital benefits, as well as further complicating the public perception of transgender individuals. These individuals are not being acknowledged as the gender to which they have legally and physically been altered, and Texas is working to make their emotional and physical struggle into a trifle.

Originally, a 1999 law still allowed for some Texas transgender marriages to occur. The law accepted the gender on a birth certificate as the legal interpretation of gender. One case of a pre-2009 marriage occurred when an individual was born with both sets of genitalia and was sexually reassigned at birth to become a male. Later, the individual was sexually reassigned as a female but was legally able to marry another female in what was considered a heterosexual marriage.

In 2009, the state passed, in a larger bill, an addition that allowed for a certificate of sex-reassignment to be the legal interpretation of gender, so transgender individuals would beallowed to marry. Therefore, an individual born a man and reassigned as a woman could marry another man, and vice-versa. Now, the governor is proclaiming he never wished to sign such a bill into law.

Throughout the United States, transgender marriage still remains a fringe and unclear issue. While technically not illegal, transgender marriage is not technically legal in many states. Due to Oregonians’ ability to file for a domestic partnership, transgender partnerships and marriages are legal here, but the law is much hazier in other states.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality conducted a study earlier this year that revealed that more than 41 percent of individuals born transgender have admitted to attempting suicide. Many transgender individuals have to hide their sexuality from friends, employers and housing officials in order to avoid issue with their living or working circumstances.

Texas wishes to maintain the ideology that marriage is only available to heterosexual couples. Physiologically, these transgender marriages are what would be considered heterosexual. Texas seems instead to be opposed to the idea of gender as a fluid concept. While many seem to consider concepts of sex and gender as set in stone, the overall issue is more complicated.

Beyond the issue of sex reassignment, individuals who are born intersexed face an even greater struggle with these laws. Many intersex children can be assigned a gender at birth, but such a gender may or may not fit with a sexual and gender identity that they become aware of later in life. In turn, a small yet important part of the population is left disenfranchised.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, one in 2,000 children born in the U.S. are diagnosed with ambiguous external genitalia. Looking at the larger picture, this issue affects more people than one might initially consider. Children must be assigned a gender at birth, as part of our cultural standards, and therefore doctors and parents run the risk of picking out a gender for their child that may or may not match their later inner conceptions of their gender.

While trying to protect the “sanctity of marriage,” an institution that currently has a fifty percent chance of success, Texas is showing itself to be wholly insensitive to the issue of gender identity. While the law may seem to the Texas legislature like a loophole that needs to be closed, in reality it allows for us to consider for ourselves what male and female really are.

We can’t leave all of the gender-challenging politics to Lady Gaga. In a society in which so much of our identity relies on constructions of gender, the transgender community is working to support freedom of expression. Supporters of gay marriage can understand that love is not specific to male/female couples, so why shouldn’t we associate it with every gender in between? ?