22.Submission from G D and S L Brooks
1. We have just seen details of the Draft
Bill in the Gendys Journal. We welcome the Bill. It is a major
development to the rights of transgendered individuals. It will
remove many from a legal limbo.
2. We are concerned however that this development
will in practice take away the rights of spouses and push some
transgendered people further into a legal limbo.
3. We are a couple who have been married
for almost 31 years and are near full retirement.
4. About 15 years ago one of us came to
accept they are transgendered. The adopted policy was to put family
first and gender considerations second. This repression led to
depression resulting in failure to gain promotion and eventually,
in 1995, retirement on ill health grounds.
5. Since then there has been a continued
decline in both physical and mental health. It became a choice
of either full gender reassignment or a very short life expectancy.
6. The problems seemed immense. Our commitment
to our children has meant there has only ever been one income
earner. Both of us are now suffering health problems.
7. After much anguish we determined a way
to stay together as a couple yet allow the gender reassignment
to take place.
8. We will for instance be moving from our
long established family home to another location.
9. The proposals in the draft Bill appear
to have practical difficulties for couples like us.
10. We understand there will be a requirement
that people seeking recognition under this proposed legislation
will have to dissolve an existing marriage.
11. There may be a general expectation that
all eligible transgendered people will take action under the new
legislation and consequently there could be a marginalisation
of those who choose not to register in their new gender. Such
people could be in a deeper legal limbo, and subject to increased
12. There may be an inclination for Gender
Identity Clinics to require divorce prior to any reassignment
treatment. This will deprive some people of appropriate treatment
which is currently available even for those who remain married.
13. For a medical practitioner to require
a patient to divorce and in so doing affect the status of a third
person is an infringement of that persons rights.
14. We have agreed we will not divorce to
enable the registration to go ahead unless there is adequate protection
of rights for both of us.
15. We will preserve our married rights
even if it exacerbates the already mentioned health problems.
16. One suggested solution we have seen
for protecting spouses is through the government's proposals for
same sex civil partnerships.
17. We, along with other couples we know,
are not too happy with this suggestion. Despite subsequent gender
problems we believe our marriage vows were a commitment for life.
18. We can also see a number of pitfalls
in following the suggestion.
19. Firstly the proposals are only that
and are under separate legislation.
20. There may be an unwelcome insinuation
of sexuality about the non-transgendered spouse who takes part
in a same sex agreement.
21. Some pension providers will not grant
a pension to a partner of a deceased pensioner when the marriage
took place after retirement. There is a risk that where a couple
such as we divorce that pension rights will cease. The civil partnership
may be treated as a fresh relationship and the pension rights
will not be restored.
22. There may be similar problems in such
areas as life insurance.
23. We suggest that a protection of the
spouse can be achieved in a number of ways.
24. Gender identity clinics should not be
able to insist on divorce prior to treatment unless there is adequate
protection available for the spouse. Registration in the new gender
should remain an option not an obligation.
25. There could be a procedure whereby divorce
and a civil partnership are enacted in the one process and that
this should count as a continuing relationship in such areas as
26. That the proposed procedure is given
a separate title which indicates it is a continuation of a legal
marriage. This would help preserve the status of the spouse who
is neither transgendered nor homosexual.
27. Whilst our suggestions relate to separate
pieces of legislation we could not take full advantage of provisions
in the Gender Recognition Bill until there is full protection
for both of us.
28. Our preference is for our marriage to
continue but if the JCHR cannot find a way of incorporating such
a measure in this Bill then we ask that the rights of spouses
are included in other human rights measures.
7 September 2003