I’m hoping that this talk was recorded as planned and so will be available on Penn State Dickinson School of Law’s website, eventually, because there were a lot of interesting questions discussed in the Q&A after I spoke. Prof. Rains also added a lot of useful legal insight.
I started with a kind of preface in order (1) to define terms like transgender, MTF and FTM, and also (2) to explain that while people like drag queens and crossdressers are considered part of the transgender community, discussions about legal marriage issues donâ€™t always or often effect them; that is, this talk concerns people who identify nearer to the transsexual end of things. that said, drag queens are often already gay and so deal with the same marriage discrimination all gay people do, and crossdressers often suffer with the stigma of being perverts, and one of the reasons they are not out is exactly because they donâ€™t want their wives to divorce them, or lose custody of their children, or lose their jobs, all of which can & does happen to crossdressers who come out.
I never expected that any aspect of my life would cause me to speak at a law school to future lawyers about the odd ways that my life has become complicated by laws about gender and marriage. Iâ€™m surprised two-fold: for starters, I never expected to get married, since as a younger and Very Serious Feminist I saw it as a Tool of Patriarchy, symbolic at least of the ways women have always been chattel, and so, not for me. But I also never expected to get married because I was, starting as a teenager in the late 80s, an ally of gay and lesbian people.
& Then I met Betty, who at the time we met presented as male, and as she likes to explain, we knew, both of us, nearly from the get-go that we were supposed to be together. Itâ€™s a difficult feeling to explain, and poets have tried, but it took us a few years to decide once & for all that we were in this thing together. We decided to get married because things were so easy between us; on our 2nd date we sat together and read, one of us The Nation and the other The New York Times. When youâ€™re something like an old married couple on your 2nd date, you know that youâ€™re doomed.