Trans* Jersey supports Deputy Sam Mezec’s call for the States of Jersey to pass legislation to legalise same-sex marriage. Trans* Jersey goes further and would support a move for the island to model its law on Scotland’s equal marriage legislation.
We support equal marriage because, as the law currently stands in Jersey, a transman or transwoman in a marriage or civil partnership and wishing to legally transition (by acquiring a gender recognition certificate (“GRC”)) must first obtain a divorce from their spouse. Divorce and re-marriage (via a civil partnership or marriage, depending on which way you are going!) carries with it not just costs but implications for the continuation of legal documents, such as wills, and pension provisions.
This is the only known example where the law requires someone to forgo one right (the right to remain married to their partner) in order to access another (the right to private life afforded by the Gender Recognition Act). This anomaly has led to some transsexual people in the UK deciding not to acquire a GRC, as they argue their marriage vows were for life and they object to the idea that their partner (by remaining with them and true to those vows) would be unfairly treated by dissolving the original bond.
When Scotland was considering equal marriage legislation, James Morton of the Equality Network and Scottish Transgender Alliance released this video explaining why equal marriage matters to trans and intersex people. Trans* Jersey agrees with the points he made.
When England introduced the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, they got it wrong. They included what has come to be called the Spousal Veto, a clause that allows spouses of transgender people to effectively stop them from legally transitioning (i.e. acquiring a GRC). Sarah Brown, the LibDem politician and trans* activist, explains why this is a problem here.
When Scotland passed its legislation, the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, they got it right. They removed the need for transgender people to dissolve their marriage before be able to acquire a GRC; they have enabled people to have gender-neutral marriage ceremonies; and they secured the removal of the spousal veto.
An explanation from the Equality Network on what Scotland’s recently passed equal marriage bill will mean for trans and intersex people.
The Equality Network is a Scottish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality charity: http://www.equality-network.org