Trans* People and US Marriage Laws: Updated
Being transgender leads to all types of tricky situations, particularly when it comes to legal situations. In short, the laws are not written with us in mind. So what’s a trans* guy (or trans* person in general) to do when he realizes he wants to marry his partner? The answer is a little complicated and depends on the laws where you live/where you want to get married, your legal sex and the legal sex of your partner. Here’s a breakdown:
-Marriage laws, as well as laws pertaining to one’s legal sex, vary by state. The rule generally is that if you want to marry a person who is by legal definition a woman (has female documentation), you’re safest if you are male on your birth certificate as well as your drivers license. If this is the case, you should be able to get married anywhere in the world and have your marriage recognized in whatever state you live in. Here’s the difficult thing, though, you can’t change your gender marker on your birth certificate in every state (while others allow you to, but require surgery). To know if you’ll be able to change your birth certificate you should research the laws of the state in which you were born.
-You still may be able to enter into a marriage with a legal female if your drivers license bears a male gender marker but you haven’t been able to change your birth certificate. More states allow you to change the gender marker on your drivers license than you birth certificate, and some states only require that (and perhaps another form of id like a passport) for a marriage license. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown on what is required for a marriage license.
-Keep in mind that the state in which you were born determines how you change your gender on your birth certificate, the state in which you reside determines how you change the gender on your drivers license, and the state in which you want to get married determines what types of identification are required for you to wed. If you’re able to change your birth certificate in the state where you were born, you will likely be able to change your drivers license. Whether or not you’re considered legally male depends on your gender marker on your birth certificate and your drivers license (if you only have your drivers id changed and not your birth certificate, that is when things get complicated and you enter into a sort of legal grey area).
-If you still are legally female and want to marry a legal female (or if you’re legally male and want to marry a legal male), marriage for “same sex” individuals is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington D.C., New York, and Washington state. Keep in mind that these marriages are only recognized by those states as well as Rhode Island and Maryland, they are NOT recognized by the federal government and so cannot be used for immigration purposes (unfortunately). If you get married in Iowa you cannot go home to Missouri and have your marriage recognized by the state. Civil Unions or domestic partnerships are legal in Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maine, and Hawaii, *edit* and California. For more information on the marriage laws in different states, check out this website.
-If you are legally female and want to marry a legal male, congratulations because you have found a loophole in the gay marriage debate! Feel free to shock and awe your friends with your legal gay wedding in Texas, Arkansas, or any other state where it will be sure to piss off your neighbors.
Here’s more information on changing your gender marker on your birth certificate, drivers license, or passport.