In recent years, the passionate debate regarding same-sex marriage and divorce has occupied the discussions of people in Texas and around the country. It’s an emotional, personal and often religious matter that is in the crucial process of being ironed out throughout or country.
Should same-sex couples be able to marry? Should they be able to divorce? If they get married in one state, can they divorce in another? And it can get even more complicated. What if a person is transgender? If he marries a woman, is that considered a same-sex marriage? Would it be legal in Texas? A recent court ruling in a Texas divorce case may help answer that.
According to The Huffington Post, a judge ruled in favor of a transgender man involved in a family law dispute with his estranged wife. The husband in this case was born in the body of a female but underwent surgical procedures and governmental paperwork processes in order to be officially recognized as a male.
He married a woman in Texas, but their marriage didn’t work out and he later filed for divorce. Instead of his estranged wife deciding to go along with a standard divorce process, she attempted to take a more controversial, complicated route. Even though she reportedly knew of her husband’s history (that he was born a female) she married him. Yet, when the union fell apart, she tried to have a Texas court rule that the marriage was never valid.
The wife and her attorney looked at a past Texas case involving a couple wherein one of the partners was transgender. When the non-transgender spouse died, family challenged that the transgender partner should receive any of the marital property. The court ruled in favor of the family, leaving the transgender spouse with nothing. Basically, the court didn’t recognize that being transgender means that someone’s gender has changed. It saw the marriage as same-sex, which is illegal in Texas.
This time around in the more current Texas transgender divorce case, the court had quite a different take on marriage involving a transgender partner. The judge recognized the marriage as valid and denied the wife’s request that it be declared void. This means that the transgender husband will get his share of assets out of the property division process.
Some are surprised by this Texas ruling, given the history of such cases in the state. It is still possible that the wife could appeal the recent decision.
The Huffington Post: “Transgender Man Wins Right to a Marital Divorce,” Frederick Hertz, Dec. 2, 2011