Thu, Aug 08, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Transgender couple’s marriage valid

POINT OF LAW:Because one of the couple was still listed as a man on national identity documents, the MOI decided their marriage met the legal requirements

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Jiyi, left, and Abbygail Wu, who both underwent gender reassignment surgery last year, hold hands during a protest in front of the Ministry of the Interior in Taipei yesterday asking the ministry to revoke an earlier decision annulling their marriage.

Photo: J. Michael Cole, Taipei Times

The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday reversed its decision to revoke the marriage certificate of a transgender couple, saying that a marriage is legally valid as long as a couple consists of a man and a woman at the time they register their marriage.

The about-face came after a three-hour cross-ministry meeting.

“The ministry ruled that the marriage is valid, because Jiyi Ng [吳芷儀] and Abbygail Wu [吳伊婷] were a man and a woman at the time of their marriage registration,” Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights president Victoria Hsu (許秀雯) said.

“It does not matter if they decide to undergo gender reassignment surgery after marriage, because it is also their right to do so,” she said.

Ng and Wu were waiting outside the ministry, along with other gender rights activists, for a decision, and cheered when it was announced.

Ng and Wu were born male. They underwent gender reassignment surgery to become women in July last year, following years of hormone therapy.

When they registered their marriage on Oct. 16 last year, Wu had changed the gender on her national ID card five days before, but Ng had not yet changed her ID card.

Since the paperwork showed a man and a woman were getting married, their registration was approved because the Civil Code only recognizes a marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Earlier this year the ministry found out that both Ng and Wu were women at the time they registered their marriage and so it revoked the registration. The Wanhua District Household Registration Office then notified the couple their marriage was invalid.

The couple protested, and with help from Democratic Progressive Party legislators Cheng Li-chun (鄭麗君) and Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) they succeeded in getting the ministry to review its decision.

The couple hailed the reversal.

“I would like to thank the government for recognizing gender diversity, and protecting the rights of people who are already married, like us,” Wu said.

Ng said the decision would “benefit every couple who may be in a similar situation.” However, she said she hopes the restriction on the genders eligible to register a marriage could be lifted in the future.

Ng said in an earlier interview with the Taipei Times that she and Abbygail do not see themselves as women or lesbians, but as genderqueer — a “third gender.” They now use Wu as their family name.

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