Transsexual Marriage

Focus — By on May 21, 2012 8:10 AM
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Editor:Dorothy Goh,Joyce Lee
Reporters:Natalie Cheng,Rene Lam, Derek Li

Preparations are currently underway for a musical inspired by the case of W, a transsexual woman who is taking her fight for the right to marry in Hong Kong to the Court of Final Appeal.

“Dream of the Mermaid” tells the story of a mermaid, who is no longer considered an “animal” after transforming her body, fighting for her right to marry her human beloved. Her perseverance moves “God”, who finally alters the laws of the animal kingdom, granting the mermaid her lifelong wish.

The mermaid’s predicament is based on that of W’s. Although she was born a man, she has undergone sex reassignment treatment and has changed the gender on her Hong Kong Identity Card to female. She wants to get married, but the law forbids her to do so because she was a ‘man’.

Music producer Angela Mak believes the production will give W a source of support, and hopes for a happy ending to W’s court case, just like in the musical.

W is challenging the Marriage Ordinance, which she thinks unconstitutional as it denies her the right to marry a man. She says it contradicts the right to marry guaranteed under the Hong Kong Bill of Rights as stated in the Basic Law.

W lost her case in the Court of First Instance and then in Court of Appeal, which said there was no evidence of a social consensus regarding transsexual marriage.

The court restated that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, with the responsibility to procreate, following the logic that non-consummation remains a ground for annulling a marriage. It equates transsexual marriage with homosexual marriage, which is outlawed in the current marriage system. W’s lawsuit will be heard at the Court of Final Appeal early next year.

Philip Dykes SC, the barrister representing W, emphasizes that W is not gay. Transsexual women want to be acknowledged that they are born female inside a male body. The surgery is only a means to align their physical state with their mental one.

As the term LGTB (lesbian, gay, transsexual, bisexual) bounds these minorities together, their differences are often overlooked. Transsexuals ask for an affirmation of their new identity. Unlike gays and lesbians, who relish their own sex and challenge the traditional view of marriage, many transsexuals adhere to the conventional values of marriage, including the view that it is between a man and a woman.

Countries like Singapore strictly prohibit same-sex marriage but allow for transsexual marriage, as the latter reaffirms heterosexual marriage. Other regions in Asia that allow transsexual marriage include the mainland, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

Dr Ng Wan-lun, who performed transsexual surgeries before his retirement, says transsexuals have a special need which is currently treated as an illness. Medically, the condition of feeling trapped in a body of the wrong sex is referred to as gender dysphoria. It is believed to be a biological condition that develops before birth.

According to Ng, the government is but a witness to register marriages and its agreements; all couples should be given the legal right to marry.

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