via Advocate, by Trudy Ring
Although Nikki, born biologically male, didn't have her gender transition surgery until a few months after the ceremony, she had no reason to think their marriage wasn't legal.
In 2010, Thomas, a firefighter, died while battling a blaze. When Nikki tried to claim her share of his death benefits, a judge ruled their marriage invalid.
Though laws governing the marriage of trans men and women who've undergone gender-reassignment surgery vary from state to state, the ruling, now on appeal, is a rare instance of a transgender person's marriage being voided.
"In the vast majority of cases [involving marriages of transgender people], nobody has any problem," says Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who has handled many marriage-related cases.
"Nobody even questions the validity of the marriage. Now there have been a handful of cases in very conservative states that have come out badly."
The reason? "Courts in these states have been so homophobic," says Minter. "They don't want to even come close to recognizing a same-sex marriage."
Cases that have ended badly include that of Christie Littleton in Texas, where an appeals court ruled in 1999 that she could not bring a wrongful death suit after her husband, Jonathon, died; even though she had undergone gender-reassignment surgery, the court deemed Littleton male and her marriage invalid.
In Kansas in 2002 came the only such ruling at a state supreme court level, in which J'Noel Gardiner, another transgender woman who had been widowed, was denied inheritance rights because the court did not recognize her marriage.
Several years ago, Minter represented Floridian Michael Kantaras, a transgender man who sought custody of his children when his marriage ended.
The trial court ruled that Kantaras was male and his marriage valid, and awarded him custody, but the verdict was reversed on appeal.
However, the Dr. Phil show then paid for mediation for Kantaras and his ex-wife, resulting in shared custody. "So that was good," Minter says.
There was encouraging news last year in Texas, one of the last states to allow proof of gender reassignment to get a marriage license.
A Republican-backed bill that decreed that, for the purpose of marriage, gender is assigned at birth and cannot be changed even after gender-reassignment surgery, died in the legislature.
And in November a Dallas County judge refused to invalidate trans man James Allan Scott's marriage to Rebecca Robertson, allowing the dissolution of their marriage to proceed as a divorce and giving Scott a chance at a share of the couple's property, says his lawyer, Eric Gormly.
Though Scott had transitioned before their marriage, Robertson sought to nullify the union on grounds that he was born female.
Read the rest
select key words
2007 National HIV Prevention Conference 2009 National LGBTI Health Summit 2011 LGBTI Health Summit 2012 Gay Men's Health Summit 2012 International AIDS Conference abstinence only ACT Up activism advocacy Africa african-american aging issues AIDS AIDS Foundation of Chicago anal cancer anal carcinoma anal health anal sex andrew's anus athlete ball scene bareback porn barebacking bathhouses bears big bold and beautiful Bisexual Bisexual Health Summit bisexuality black gay men black msm blood ban blood donor body image bottom Brian Mustanski BUTT Center on Halsted Charles Stephens Chicago Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus Chicago Task Force on LGBT Substance Use and Abuse Chris Bartlett chubby chaser circumcision civil rights civil union Coaching with Jake communication community organizing condoms Congress crystal meth dating dating and mating with alan irgang David Halperin David Munar depression disclosure discrimination domestic violence don't ask don't tell douche downlow Dr. James Holsinger Dr. Jesus Ramirez-Valles Dr. Rafael Diaz Dr. Ron Stall drag queen Ed Negron emotional health ENDA Eric Rofes exercise Feast of Fun Feel the love... female condom fitness Friday is for Faeries FTM gay culture gay identity gay latino gay male sex gay marriage gay men gay men of color gay men's health Gay Men's Health Summit 2010 gay pride gay rights gay rugby gay sex gay youth gender harm reduction hate crime HCV health care health care reform health insurance hepatitis C HIV HIV care HIV drugs HIV negative HIV positive HIV prevention HIV stigma HIV strategic plan HIV testing hiv vaccine HIV/AIDS homophobia homosexuality hottie hotties how are you healthy? Howard Brown Health Center HPV human rights humor hunk Illinois IML immigration International AIDS Conference international mr. leather internet intimacy IRMA Jim Pickett leather community leathersex Leon Liberman LGBT LGBT adoption LGBT culture LGBT health LGBT rights LGBT seniors LGBT youth LGBTI community LGBTI culture LGBTI health LGBTI rights LGBTI spirituality LGV LifeLube LifeLube forum LifeLube poll LifeLube subscription lifelube survey Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano love lube lubricant Lymphogranuloma Venereum masturbation mental health microbicides middle Monday Morning Perk-Up MRSA MSM music National AIDS Strategy National Gay Men's Health Summit negotiated safety nutrition One Fey's Tale oral sex Peter Pointers physical health Pistol Pete pleasure PnP podcast policy politics poppers porn post-exposure prophylaxis PrEP President Barack Obama Presidential Campaign prevention Project CRYSP prostate prostate cancer public health public sex venues queer identity racism Radical Faerie recovery rectal microbicides relationships religion research safe sex semen Senator Barack Obama sero-adaptation sero-sorting seroguessing sex sexual abuse sexual addiction sexual health sexual orientation Sister Glo Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence smoking social marketing spirituality STD stigma stonewall riots substance abuse treatment substance use suicide super-bug superinfection Susan Kingston Swiss declaration syphilis Ted Kerr Test Positive Aware Network testicle self-examination testicular cancer testing The "Work-In" The 2009 Gay Men's Health Agenda Tony Valenzuela top Trans and Intersex Association trans group blog Trans Gynecology Access Program transgender transgender day of remembrance transgendered transmen transphobia transsexual Trevor Hoppe universal health care unsafe sex vaccines video violence viral load Who's That Queer Woof Wednesday writers yoga You Tube youtube