A political movement in the United States working to make it legal for two people of the same sex to marry. In some cases, this is expanded to give all consenting legal adults the right to marry, enabling marriages for polyamorous relationships as well. Intersexed and transgendered people have the potential to be instrumental in this fight, confusing the courts and the law until they have to give up and let everyone marry.

I have been following the freedom to marry movement since I was just a little babydyke in high school, when Baehr v. Anderson (the Hawaii court case for same-sex marriage) and then the Defense of Marriage Act were surging around us all.

In all that time, I have never seen the movement ally itself with transgendered, intersexed, polyamorous, or bisexual people.

I can understand that there may be some fear of confusing the issue and losing allies around joining forces with polyamorous or bisexual folks - although I don't agree with that personally. But there have been several court cases in recent years where transgendered people found either their marriages or their sex changes rendered null and void by the courts because they would otherwise create a same-sex marriage.

For example, in 2003, FTM dad Michael Kantaras won his court case and was declared legally male and legally married to his (gender normative, heterosexual) wife. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (which does a lot of transgender law as well) observed that with this decision, "Florida joins California and New Jersey, in which state courts have ruled that transsexuals may marry in their new (sic) gender, at odds with Texas, Kansas, and Ohio, whose courts have rendered the opposite decision." Some if not all of these cases seem to have set strong precedents about the standards to be used to determine physical sex in marriage, and Florida specifically made its ruling based on the fact that same-sex marriage is illegal.

It seems to me that when Kansas (for example) rules that J'Noel Gardiner cannot be married to a man because she was born male, that must mean that any transwoman who identifies as a lesbian or bisexual can legally marry a woman, and that the conflicting rulings on this from state to state would be very useful in challenging same-sex marriage laws and the Defense of Marriage Act.

For that matter, I know two women in California who are legally married because one of them went through the motions of changing her sex to get her ID changed, got married, and then changed it back. She was born intersexed, and was apparently lucky enough to find a doctor who would work with her on this issue. The two of them are now married with two children. There was even an independent film made about the process - "Shotgun."

This also raises many questions for me about the absence of intersexed people in this movement. The many different faces of intersexuality - including people who look and are legally female but who were born with XY chromosomes, people with ambiguous genitalia, and people with chromosomes like XXY - seem to me to be an excellent challenge to any court or government that wants to make neat boxes around sex and decide which sexes should marry which.

Of course, this is not to say that the intersex community as a whole should be a pawn for anyone's political agenda. They face much more pressing issues, like the near-impossibility of safe, sane, and consensual health care. I just wonder why none of the gay marriage activists seem to have realized that there are all kinds of queer marriages going on legally right under their noses, and why they have not approached any of these communities with the word "coalition" on their lips.


  • Shotgun: http://www.csun.edu/CommunicationStudies/lesbigaytrs/shotgun.html
  • The Kantaras case: http://www.ntac.org/pr/release.asp?did=67
  • Baehr v. Anderson and same-sex marriage in Hawaii: http://hawaiigaymarriage.com/keydates.html
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