Sex Change Legal Issues

I was listening to the radio this morning and a transexual (Used to be a man, had lots of surgery and hormones and is now a woman) said she was getting married. My question is, how does one legally change one’s sex? Can you go to court? Is it recognized in all states? My husband pointed out that people against gay marriage would probably have the same problems with a former man marrying a man.

This actually became an issue in Texas last year, when they passed one of those asinine anti-gay marriage bills. A postoperative male-to-female transsexual was able to marry her lesbian lover, as Texas (still building a bridge to the 19th century!) also does not recognize legal change of sex. So they actually officiated over a legal lesbian marriage, much to their chagrin!

Laws differ from state to state and country to country—a friend of mine in England had to go to Canada to get married, after fighting to be legally recognized as female for years.

It does indeed vary form state to state. Some states
require a sort of hearing where the person presents a doctor’s certificate stating that they have undergone a “sex-change”.

There have been cases where an intersexed individual has undergone hormone or other treatments to become the “opposite” sex. Some courts refused to change their
legal gender, as they had not had a sex-change operation.
For plenty of information on all things transgender, I recommend the magazine Transgender Tapestry. It is a non-pornographic publication, concerned with medical, political and cultural issues affecting the transgender community. Before any one asks I am in no way affiliated with the magazine, but as a Doper committed to fighting ignorance, it’s one of the many obscure yet reliable sources I’ve found.

It varies from state to state.

In two states, Texas and Oregon, judges have ruled that a post-operative male-to-female transsexual is a legal male (sex is determined by chromosomes), and have actually annulled marriages on that basis. (Also, as a result, there are a small number of same-sex marriages in Texas due to people who married either before or after having had reassignment surgery.) Most states consider your sex to be changed at the time of surgery. Some will amend your birth certificate retroactively; others will not. California will let you change your sex on your driver’s license at the time you begin living full-time as your new gender. (California also makes it illegal to out a transsexual.)

If you can get a judicial order stating your new sex (which may or may not be possible in your state), then under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, every other state has to recognize that. Whether they will or not, however, is uncertain. Don’t count on it. Generally, a transsexual is legally whichever sex would be least advantageous to him or her in that particular situation. The deck really is stacked against us.