Jennifer Finney Boylan in NYT Op-Ed: Is My Marriage Gay?
I gotta fess up: for years I read her weekly “There From Here” column in the Kennebec Journal and had no idea whatsoever of her and her family’s life story.
Glad to read this interesting and timely piece in today’s New York Times:
As many Americans know, last week Gov. John Baldacci of Maine signed a law that made this state the fifth in the nation to legalize gay marriage. It’s worth pointing out, however, that there were some legal same-sex marriages in Maine already, just as there probably are in all 50 states. These are marriages in which at least one member of the couple has changed genders since the wedding.
I’m in such a marriage myself and, quite frankly, my spouse and I forget most of the time that there is anything particularly unique about our family, even if we are – what is the phrase? – “differently married.”
Deirdre Finney and I were wed in 1988 at the National Cathedral in Washington. In 2000, I started the long and complex process of changing from male to female. Deedie stood by me, deciding that her life was better with me than without me.
Deirdre is far from the only spouse to find herself in this situation; each week we hear from wives and husbands going through similar experiences together. Reliable statistics on transgendered people always prove elusive, but just judging from my e-mail, it seems as if there are a whole lot more transsexuals – and people who love them – in New England than say, Republicans. Or Yankees fans.
I’ve been legally female since 2002, although the definition of what makes someone “legally” male or female is part of what makes this issue so unwieldy. How do we define legal gender? By chromosomes? By genitalia? By spirit? By whether one asks directions when lost?
We accept as a basic truth the idea that everyone has the right to marry somebody. Just as fundamental is the belief that no couple should be divorced against their will.
h/t to Blend reader Rachel, and more below the fold…
For our part, Deirdre and I remain legally married, even though we’re both legally female. If we had divorced last month, before Governor Baldacci’s signature, I would have been allowed on the following day to marry a man only.
Gender involves a lot of gray area. And efforts to legislate a binary truth upon the wide spectrum of gender have proven only how elusive sexual identity can be.
Legal scholars can (and have) devoted themselves to the ultimately frustrating task of defining “male” and “female” as entities fixed and unmoving. A better use of their time, however, might be to focus on accepting the elusiveness of gender – and to celebrate it. Whether a marriage like mine is a same-sex marriage or some other kind is hardly the point. What matters is that my spouse and I love each other, and that our legal union has been a good thing – for us, for our children and for our community.
Brilliantly written and the legal cases within the original piece are very compelling.
This is what we need to help the average American understand– examples of real stories displaying the normalcy, the acceptance, the love that already exists within very healthy families- not just in Maine, but throughout our country.