Skip to comments.Sex change thrust couple into same-sex marriage debate (Barf alert)
Posted on 01/23/2005 8:52:09 PM PST by Cracker72
Photo by The Associated Press
CONCORD - Judi Howden found happiness in her second marriage, but only after a struggle with issues that have destroyed other families and divided the nation.
With Michael Howden, she had love, another child and a home. It took all three to keep the family together as Michael became Mikayla.
They married nearly four years ago. Mikayla changed her name in 2003 and underwent a sex change in September. The act transformed them into a legally married same-sex couple, despite a ban on such unions in 40 states, including New Hampshire.
Whether or not society will acknowledge our marriage, I think, is my biggest fear, Judi Howden said. That someday, someone may pass legislation that says, Because you are now two females, you are no longer married. For anyone to say that they have the right to break up a family, I dont think is right.
Judi Howden said her mind initially slammed shut when she learned the man she was dating intended to become a woman. But thinking about separation ultimately proved even more difficult.
There was so strong of a connection for Mikayla and I, she said. I never knew that there was such a relationship out there in the world.
The couples experience highlights a legal Catch-22. States can either recognize or refuse to recognize someones new gender after a sex change. Either decision inescapably permits some form of same-sex marriage.
Recognition lets existing, heterosexual marriages like the Howdens become same-sex. Denying recognition permits new same-sex marriages - like one between Judi and Mikayla if they were to marry today - because the spouses genders differ only on paper, not visibly.
I have no answer to it, said state Rep. Dan Itse, R-Fremont, who supports the states same-sex marriage ban. We have ventured where angels fear to tread.
Apart from Mikayla Howdens gender change, her familys Concord home is like many across middle America. There are prayers at meal times. One parent works while the other stays home with the kids. There are childrens toys in every room.
But for Mikayla Howden, who likened her prior condition to a birth defect, treating a medical problem created a series of legal ones. She does not yet know if the government will recognize her as legally female, and fears the effects same-sex marriage laws could have on her family.
According to the National Center for Lesbian Rights in California, four states dont permit gender updates: Tennessee, Ohio, Kansas and Texas. About half of the remaining states do. A firm policy hasnt been legally well established in the remaining states, including New Hampshire, said Shannon Minter, the centers legal director.
The federal government must decide if Mikayla Howden, a U.S. citizen born overseas, can update her birth certificate. It hasnt yet ruled, and Minter said the Bush administration has not been as accommodating as earlier administrations.
The Howdens marriage clearly was legal when it began, and same-sex marriage bans cannot automatically invalidate it, Minter said, just as states dont automatically annul marriages for adultery or abuse.
But at least one conservative group would like to change that. The Rev. Louis Sheldon, founder and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition in Washington, D.C., said marriages like the Howdens should be dissolved.
Absolutely, he said. We dont want the roof to leak in any place. We must make sure that marriage is protected.
Sheldons coalition, a lobby claiming more than 43,000 member churches, is crafting an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions. The Howdens, he said, have slipped through a legal loophole.
Social conservatives often portray same-sex marriage as a moral issue, Mikayla Howden said. But she called changing her gender a life-and-death decision, not a lifestyle choice. Living as a man was fundamentally wrong, she said, and nearly led her to suicide.
What are you going to pick? You certainly hope for the point of wanting to pick life, she said. So many of us, because of society, choose death.
Transsexuals are not the only people who have sex-change operations. Surgery also is used to treat intersex conditions such as improperly formed genitalia.
Updating birth certificates is not the only legal challenge facing transsexuals.
State gay-marriage bans complicate such core activities as buying and inheriting property together or collecting insurance.
In 1999, a Texas appeals court upheld a ruling against a transsexual who became a woman and married a man. The court ruled the marriage an invalid union of two men, denying the transsexual money from a wrongful death settlement after her husband died.
Cases in Florida and Illinois are addressing whether transsexuals who have become men are legally fathers of children who were born through artificial insemination or adopted into their families while they were married.
In California, a transsexual who became a woman is challenging a ruling that denied her husband citizenship because she was born male, Minter said.
The human consequences are really painful, she said.
For the Howdens, other difficulties arise daily. Mikayla Howden said she struggles with whether America is living up to its legacy of freedom while gays, lesbians and transsexuals face systematic legal discrimination. Sexuality, she said, shouldnt be part of the governments decisions.
Judi Howden said she struggles with being labeled a lesbian - one day accepting it, but resisting any label the next.
Its not this seedy little thing going on, she said. Were normal, everyday people.
They said the responsibilities of home and raising a family - a child of their own and two from Judi Howdens previous marriage - have helped them through tough emotional times. So has open, honest communication.
It isnt always easy, but its the most important, even when it comes to your fears, Judi Howden said. Because when you hold those fears inside, it doubles them.
"And if the doctors are so concerned, then why not require genetic testing in doubtful cases and correctly inform the parents of their child's sex? At that point the parents could work with their child's given gender rather than against it."
Gender identity does not always go along with genotype. The completely AIS women are a good esample. AIS women are phenotypically female. Partial AIS women may be born with somewhat ambiguous genitalia.
Again: Why not ask the child to which gender they should belong.
Part of me agrees with this. If we can come up with a way to eliminate the concept of marriage from all law, then it might work, but I believe that would be difficult.
Can we eliminate the concept of marriage from the tax code? Do we eliminate the age-old sanction of a spouse not being required to give testimony in court against the other spouse? Do we allow individual companies to decide when and when not to extend medical coverage to significant others? How do we protect children without mentioning marriage? etc.
I don't see any problem with defining criteria by which people can be considered to be congenitally transgendered, nor with providing that such people may seek to be regarded legally as either male or female.
Such definitions would allow an XY (androgen insensitive) woman to marry an XX woman, but I would think the number of XY women wanting to marry other women would be so small as to be negligible.
The remedy would be to provide that a person must have one of a number of characteristics to be called a man, and must have one of a number of other characteristics to be called a woman; a few people would have characteristics that would allow them to be called either. Those people, and those people alone, would be allowed the discretion to declare their sex.
Now how I actually know her is kind of am interesting story. One wouldn't think church would be a place a transsexual would turn up but that is where I met her. She had gone through the process, including surgery, of become "female" (note the "") before finding Jesus. She was attending Texas A&M and started attending the same church as I and in the same church college class. Now we already knew before she started attending because the pastor for the college group had explained to us. We all agreed that she should not be treated like a freak or outcast. After all, Jesus forgives all (but one) sin and if he was here today, he would not mistreat anyone regardless if of their past mistakes.
Now I'm as straight as can be and consider a transsexual to still be their original gender but the first time she came into our Sunday school class, I myself and just about every other male was stunned that she was drop dead gorgeous. Until the pastor introduced her, we all assumed she was a "real girl". It was impossible to tell either by looking at her or listening to her speak.
Now to make a long story short, she stayed with our church until she finished college and moved. During that time our group enjoyed a lot of fun times together and most of us were proud to call her our friend. One couldn't have met a kinder person and good Christian. However, I always felt sorry for her because she felt it would be wrong to get married, for the obvious reason. (She was talking about the moral and religious concerns, not legal ones.) As far as I know, she never dated once during her time at our church.
As I do for most of the people I've called my friends over the years, I still say a prayer for her and hope God will bring her peace and happiness she never seemed to really have.
Now I'm sure I'm going to get flamed. Some "holier than thou Christian" (I'm not referring to all Christians as I am obviously one but to those who actually seem to hate people that they consider to be "inferior Christians") will say we should have told her to buzz off and that she'll burn in hell no matter what. I guess I worship a different God than those kind of Christians. I believe what Jesus said to the Pharisees while having dinner with "tax collectors and sinner" at Matthew's house, the "Parable of Pharisee and the Tax Collector" and which one was more righteous, and when he said "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
I don't think that would work. Judi & Mikayla could meet after Mikayla changed, and they'd be to all the world a lesbian couple. But under your proposed language they'd be a legal marriage.
I think the problem is that biological reality doesn't provide the bright, easy line we wish it would. So any legal definition that tries to both enforce a bright, unambiguous line and to deny gay marriage will necessarily grind up those people who are born living too close to the line. (Whether plain gender dysphoric, or physically intersexed, or that TLA someone mentioned upstream that I'm too lazy to look up right now, etc. :-)
Considering the tax code punishes those who are married, why not.
Do we eliminate the age-old sanction of a spouse not being required to give testimony in court against the other spouse?
Simple solution here, we could just apply it to lovers (having sex) within a given grace period, say three months. Also, remember the law says a spouse can give testimony if they want to, they just don't have too.
Also, I believe someone should NOT be forced to give testimony, it voilates the 5th Ammendments of the Constitution.
Do we allow individual companies to decide when and when not to extend medical coverage to significant others?
True capitilism of choose will work this out.
How do we protect children without mentioning marriage? etc.
(sarcasm) Protect children from what... Their parents...(sarcasm end)
Government hurts children more often through "Child Welfare Services" than private citizens ever do; remember thsoe reports a year or so ago about all those HUNDREDS of children missing from FL "Child Welfare Services" that they could not account for.
Your solution is quite... vague...
I believe it is better to ask the child than the parents, but you can't ask the child and expect an intelligent response until they are old enough ... and the definition of "old enough" is itself subject to lots of debate.
In the case of AIS, it would seem best to do nothing rather than force the child onto some male hormone regimen. But in other cases it might be best to push the child medically to look outwardly corresponding to the inner reality rather than just to force the child in the direction closest to the way they appear by way of their genitalia, i.e. have the dog wag the tail rather than vice-versa.
When the child comes of age, he/she is owed a complete explanation by his/her parents, and in turn he/she should be expected to explain his/her situation to any prospective suitors. Unless the suitors have made it clear they don't care what sex he/she is.
The AIS condition seems like it may be amenable to a medical "cure" at some point in the future. In the mean time it seems crazy that most religious texts place a greater premium on sexual identity than the Creator who would allow all of these exceptions to come about.
Either these cases are a result of sin (e.g. drugs, booze, smoking during pregnancy leading to birth defects) and the children are its victims, or else some re-interpretations are in order.
"I think the problem is that biological reality doesn't provide the bright, easy line we wish it would."
That is a really succinct summary of the issue. Biology is a lot more complex than commonly thought.
There is no "debate" in this story. They are not the same sex. Only if you accept that having an operation to change your physical appearance is their a debate.
Gee, no bias here is there. We are supposed to accept the premise. I don't think so.
I guess society never had to even think about the definition of sex until medical technology made it possible to force the issue.
Can someone please tell me why they insist on referring to this man as "she"?
And why on EARTH are they praying?? What on EARTH do they hope to accomplish by that? Is that supposed to convince me that they love God or something?
I don't see how a lesbian couple could get married under the language I proposed, especially in the case where one got sex reassignment.
Of course the language I proposed was thrown together in a minute as I was typing and would need more rework, but basically anyone who ever had their sex reassigned would become ineligible for marriage (or instantly nullify any pre-existing marriage.)
Thus a freely made decision would make impossible certain future decisions, which is often the case in the course of human events, e.g. I don't work for a private company during my career so I don't get Social Security.
The only case brought up by punster that would seem to create a quandary is AIS where the person from all outward appearances appears to be a woman but is genetically a male, and where it seems in most cases the person identifies as a woman.
If the definition of male and female is genetic then this person would have to identify as a male and marry a woman and create a situation which would look very much like a lesbian marriage. I don't know the answer to this. Off the top of my head, any person with AIS would be required to go through what would appear to be a sex reassignment regimen to look more like the male that he/she is before being allowed to be married. But this seems rather draconian and fascistic on the face of it.
I think your story is touching.
And, in this case, I don't see anything wrong with referring to her as "her". She made a mistake, that she was unable to reverse. I think referring to her as "he" would only make her pain worse. Now, I would not necessarily feel this way if she decided to get married and adopt a kid or whatever. But since she has made the adult decision to live with what she did, and not date or get married, then she definitely doesn't need any more pain of being constantly reminded of that.
Oh, and, just so you know...sounds to me like we worship the same God. ;)
These two critters are blowing smoke. They're just trying to get some publicity.
The "It" portion of the duo was a MAN when they were married. The inevitable phalanx of lawyers will argue that under contract law, that makes the contract binding. A ruling that the contract still stands, even though the former "Man" is now an "It", would set *no* legal precedent w/r/t two people who were both male or both female BEFORE a marriage,
That's all fine and dandy until in three years thet both want to become men...L.O.L....Hetro to lesbo to homo...makin the round trip I guess...Life is just to short......
This is what happened in Belgium a couple of years back.
Unless we decide to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, then it would seem to me that being able to properly define males and females is something that should happen at the national level.
Phyllis Schlafly predicted that the ERA would lead to gay marriages because if a man and woman have the exact same legal status before the law, then a man marrying a woman is legally equivalent to a man marrying a man.
People who say that all this should be left up to the states mystify me. Roe v. Wade has made it difficult to constitutionally define what a human being is, so I guess I shouldn't be that surprised that even fellow conservatives don't seem to care about crossing the T's and dotting the I's when it comes to defining what men and women are!
That's your signal that the rest of your post/flame/rant is a joke, right? About the Bible and marijuana, etc...a parody of an unthinking DU-type, right? And you were trying to suck me in for fun. Anyway, whether you were kidding or not, it made me laugh, thanks. "Female whore moans"... that's good!