A “gay” marriage between a man and a woman

Donita Ganzon’s driver’s license says “female.” So does her passport. And her marriage certificate. She’s married to a man. She has female sex organs. She looks and dresses like a woman. And yet her husband may be deported because the United States government says the marriage is “gay” (sounds a lot like a playground insult, huh?) and won’t recognize it as valid. Because the marriage isn’t valid, they won’t issue him a green card. And all this because more than 20 years ago, Donita Ganzon had a sex change operation to match her physical sex to the gender she had always identified with.

State laws on marriages where one or both partners is transgender vary widely, and have so far been generally ignored in the same-sex marriage debate (except from a handful of people on the right who cruelly use transgender people to illustrate how “perverted” the LGBT community is). Read the whole article, as it presents many pieces of information that I had no idea about. For example:

-Being transgender is more common than cystic fibrosis
-About 1 in 30,000 people undergo sex reassignment surgery — and many more identify as transgender but never have the operation
-Transgender people are murdered at a rate 16 times that of average Americans

This issue, as far as I can tell, falls into the category of, “Who does it hurt?” If these two people, who are already married, have their marriage recognized by the U.S. government, who is harmed by it? I mean, they fit the “traditional” definition of marriage, right? One man, one woman? If Ganzon shouldn’t marry a man, then would the government recognize her marriage to a woman? Or should she not be allowed to marry? If not, should she just be celibate her whole life, since sex outside of marriage is a no-no? This one has me thoroughly confused.


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25 comments for “A “gay” marriage between a man and a woman

  1. May 25, 2005 at 9:13 pm

    Come on, Jill! Don’t you get it? If we allow this ONE couple to just slip through the system, this means that all the other couples with a transgendered spouse will have to be recognized. This would be a disgusting precedent to set! Anyhow, choosing the one you want to marry is overrated these days. Government-arranged marriage seems the way to go, in my opinion.

    PS…Happened to stumble across this site tonight doing a Technorati search. You gals are great.

  2. BillyHW
    May 25, 2005 at 9:29 pm

    who is harmed by it?

    http://tinyurl.com/c3kab

    This one has me thoroughly confused.

    You’re confused about a lot of things, Jill.

  3. Quisp
    May 25, 2005 at 9:38 pm

    They killed Jesus over the whole transgender thing?

  4. May 25, 2005 at 9:40 pm

    So… same-sex marriage makes the Baby Jesus cry? That’s the best you can do?

    Or are you trying to say that it was the homos who nailed Jesus to the cross? Because I thought the evil Jews were responsible for that.

    Either way, “same-sex marriage harms Jesus” is possibly the worst argument I’ve ever heard. But please, keep it up. You really are a pardody of yourself.

  5. May 25, 2005 at 9:48 pm

    Ha! It hurts Jesus!

    You’d think Jesus would be a little tougher than that.

    Incidentally: what happens if a man and a woman are already married, and one of them gets a sex change? Isn’t that now a gay marriage? Is the marriage immediately voided?

  6. May 25, 2005 at 9:58 pm

    Damn, who knew that Jesus was a big fetus that was killed by slutty transgendered women who love killing babies, even though they can’t even get pregnant?

    Jesus’ last words were reported as “Why hast thou forsaken me?” Actuallly he said, “If people have sex that makes Billy uncomfortable, it’s like executing me over and over with each exquisite hot and sexy thrust.”

  7. michelle
    May 25, 2005 at 10:08 pm

    Keep your weirdo death fetish to yourself. Geez. This is a family blog. Think of the children!

    Re: the post. WTF?! Deporting law-abiding folks for no good reason is just messed up, no matter what excuse they come up with.

  8. May 25, 2005 at 10:34 pm

    That is so gay.

    You know, for as fucking sanctimonious as people get about the “sanctity of marriage,” there’s a really wide discrepancy in marriage laws state-to-state. And I’m talking like “can you marry your cousin” or not, which is maybe a little more gross than, say, me marrying a man. But at the same time, I guess I really don’t care. It’s just odd how that works.

    So my question is this: The other day, I was watching Law & Order and the kid skipped off on bail with his stepmother to Virgina. There, they wed, because Virginia has no waiting period, no requisite blood test, and just requires consent from a legal guardian. All this, despite the fact that his legal guardian was also the woman he was there to marry (his stepmother). This allowed them to invoke spousal priviledge to not implicate one another.

    So if the couple in the post above went to another state that chose to recognize the marriage despite what her birth certificate says (and I’m not saying there is one, but there might be) would the other states have to recognize the marriage as part of “full faith & credit”?

    One state already knows and denies recognizing it as a gay marriage under DOMA (thank you so much, Bill Clinton, for signing that lovely little law), but would they, having wed, be able to stop other states in their tracks in investigating this? Does a state have a right to demand proof of marriage beyond a marriage certificate? Esepcially if she can produce other federally-recognized pieces of ID which verify her genetalia… It seems like there might be something of a loophole there. Oh, but don’t ever discount the stupid white men.

  9. May 26, 2005 at 6:01 am

    She has female sex organs.

    Not really. If men decided a hole in the ground was a “female sex organ,” the medical industry could conspire with the dictionary to make it so. Its one thing to be polite and honor people’s self concept; it’s another to dodge logic and reason to help them do so.

    and have so far been generally ignored in the same-sex marriage debate

    Not by everyone: a transsexual woman who has been protesting (and often terrorizing) Michfest on the grounds that she believes that there is no difference whatsoever between her and the “womyn born womyn” the festival was designed by and for has been taken to task for exploiting and taking advantage a very significant difference (namely being male) in being able to marry and grant citizen status to her wife (they themselves consider it a lesbian relationship but are willing to exploit her male status to make it legal), given the rules in the state they reside.

    Trans-status can work for or against a person when trying to marry, depending upon a wide variety of factors; it’s not quite honest to state that they have a harder time at it than the average “queer” couple since there’s just as many examples that work otherwise. (it’s also arguable that the more privileged a MtF person is, the more likely she is able to identify as a “lesbian” — and I do think race was a more signficant factor in the article than it was made out, given the focus on trans-ness — and engage in a relationship that might benefit from antiquated marriage laws given their different sexes on paper.)

  10. May 26, 2005 at 6:02 am

    It’s obvious what’ wrong with this marriage, God says she/he’s a man and that settles it! Whether it affects anyone else’s life in anyway is irrelevent.

  11. Dunc
    May 26, 2005 at 6:57 am

    So what about people who are born intersex? Or how about people who appear to be of one sex, but are genetically of the other? Is it your sexual organs at birth that count, or your DNA?

  12. jam
    May 26, 2005 at 7:25 am

    well, you know where this is all going to lead, don’t you?

    people will start getting species-change operations & then the prophecy of folks marrying dogs will come true & the End Times will finally be upon us!

    no wonder the Baby Jesus is crying! maybe a puppy would make him feel better?

    no, not to marry, you pervs!

  13. May 26, 2005 at 8:04 am

    Incidentally: what happens if a man and a woman are already married, and one of them gets a sex change? Isn’t that now a gay marriage? Is the marriage immediately voided?

    I know a woman who is/was transgendered (used to be a man) and due to these exact laws that refuse to acknowledge her sex change, she was actually ABLE to legally marry her female life-partner since the law refuses to recognize her as a woman and instead recognizes her as a man. Since the law limits marriage to a union between a man and a woman, my (now female) friend was able to legally marry her female partner.

  14. Thomas
    May 26, 2005 at 8:34 am

    Stupidity is the single leading source of irony. Bigotted straights are trying to ensure that straight transgenders cannot marry, but will end up securing the right of gay transgenders to marry (using the terms “gay” and “straight” as they loosely apply to the reassigned person, of course).

  15. May 26, 2005 at 8:48 am

    This issue, as far as I can tell, falls into the category of, “Who does it hurt?” If these two people, who are already married, have their marriage recognized by the U.S. government, who is harmed by it?

    unfortunately, those common-sense questions are not what is generally asked when someone is trying to avoid a slippery slope. probably what the other side is thinking here is that they do not want to create a loophole in the law that would allow gay people to get married to each other. after all, if we recognize these people’s marriage, than all gay couples could have legal marriages–all they have to do is go through a grueling series of medical procedures and reshape their entire gender identity.

    so no, their argument doesn’t really make sense. it’s not about making sense in a real-world practical kind of way. its about philosophical purity

  16. schemanista
    May 26, 2005 at 10:15 am

    BillyHW
    http://tinyurl.com/c3kab

    How was Jim Caviezel hurt by this?

    You’re confused about a lot of things, Jill.

    Well you’re a very confusing guy, Billy.

  17. Tarn
    May 26, 2005 at 11:12 am

    Rich said:

    Not really. If men decided a hole in the ground was a “female sex organ,” the medical industry could conspire with the dictionary to make it so. Its one thing to be polite and honor people’s self concept; it’s another to dodge logic and reason to help them do so.

    Did you deliberately decide to use an incredibly offensive comparison here or did you just not think?
    Also, you’ll find that there is actually an awful lot more grey space in the definition of what constitutes a sex organ than you seem to think- for example, does a non-trans woman born with an unusually small vagina who has an op to extend it now no longer have a female sex organ? The definition of what constitutes a penis is sort of illuminating here too- the differentiation between penis\clitoris in the case of interesexed infants is basically done on length (the minimum being around 0.6 inches for an IS child to be assigned male.) There’s no simple definition of a sex organ that can be applied, trying to call on logic and reason doesn’t help when the subject in question is as nebulous and diverse as human biological diversity.
    Secondly, if you do want to call on logic or reason, there’s a plausible line of reasoning that would define sex organs according to their function or the identity of their owner.

    Rich said:

    they themselves consider it a lesbian relationship but are willing to exploit her male status to make it legal

    You have to be kidding me- do you seriously think it’s exploitative to be able to marry because the state totally disrespects your core identity and existence? She happens to be in a crappy situation, but one which allows her to secure the status and stability of her relationship by gritting her teeth and playing by a set of rules that completely mock her identity, and you call that exploitation?

    To briefly address the MWMF issue- no one I know of is claiming that trans and non-trans women are exactly the same, the argument is that the category woman is large enough to include all of our experiences. It’s no more hypocritical for a trans woman critical of Michfest to marry to secure her partner’s citizenship than it is for another lesbian to exploit a significant difference (such as great wealth) to let her partner get a green card on the basis of providing investment capital in the USA. All lesbians, trans and non-trans, have different experiences, but we all face oppression, and to argue that it’s hypocritical that we use our differing histories and abilities to respond to that oppression is divisive and absurd.

    P.S. In the preview pane all my text is appearing in caps although it’s typed in lower case, so just to let you know I’m not shouting if it does end up appearing in caps.

  18. May 26, 2005 at 3:45 pm

    Transgender people are murdered at a rate 16 times that of average Americans

    And here’s just one recent example.

  19. May 26, 2005 at 11:30 pm

    All lesbians, trans and non-trans, have different experiences, but we all face oppression, and to argue that it’s hypocritical that we use our differing histories and abilities to respond to that oppression is divisive and absurd.

    Every straight white male is one snip away from being a “lesbian.”

    “Trans-lesbians” do not get to decide what “we” (when referring to lesbians) is, nor do they get to decide what is divisive.

  20. Tarn
    May 27, 2005 at 5:44 am

    “Trans-lesbians” do not get to decide what “we” (when referring to lesbians) is, nor do they get to decide what is divisive.

    Why not? Perhaps we could have an association member status- recognition but no voting rights in the grand lesbian conclave?

    Every straight white male is one snip away from being a “lesbian.”

    Because of course being trans is so simple that you can reduce it to genital status- god forbid that you actually pay any attention to the character of trans lives in lieu of an obsessive focus on genitalia. I mean it’s like being gay isn’t it- all your hypothetical straight male needs do is sleep with one guy, and suddenly his entire identity completely shifts?

  21. May 27, 2005 at 7:00 am

    trans lives in lieu of an obsessive focus on genitalia.

    Well, the blog entry itself was fairly obsessive about paperwork and genitalia in proving how much of a WOMAN this male was; I guess that’s only a bad thing when you decide it’s a bad thing.

    And I’m sure intersexed folks just love it when people with conventionally “normal” genitalia (and yet often want voluntary surgery to turn it into scrambled eggs) co-opt their experiences; and I can imagine how interested female women in Africa who have had their real, unimagined vaginas destroyed by gang rapes would be in your ivory tower pontification about slide rules and whatever.

  22. Tarn
    May 27, 2005 at 9:29 am

    Well, the blog entry itself was fairly obsessive about paperwork and genitalia in proving how much of a WOMAN this male was; I guess that’s only a bad thing when you decide it’s a bad thing.

    The emphasis on her identity as female is to provide contrast to the US government’s absurd decision to classify her as male. Your focus on genitalia becomes a bad thing when you start making offensive and derogatory comparisons of trans women’s bodies and when you start placing the contours of someones groin over and above their actual existence and identity.

    And I’m sure intersexed folks just love it when people with conventionally “normal” genitalia (and yet often want voluntary surgery to turn it into scrambled eggs) co-opt their experiences; and I can imagine how interested female women in Africa who have had their real, unimagined vaginas destroyed by gang rapes would be in your ivory tower pontification about slide rules and whatever.

    Based on the ‘scrambled eggs’ comment I guess you’ve answered my question about whether you’re being deliberately offensive or just thoughtless.
    Incidentally I do agree that there is a legitimate issue of some trans people appropriating intersex identities, but I don’t see how it’s relevant to what has been said here. The IS movement has done a huge amount of work exposing the fact that what we consider ‘normal’ genitalia is actually kind of arbitrary, and that operating on children and infants to ensure that their genitalia conforms to that standard is abusive. That’s relevant because you seem to hold the belief that there’s some natural and absolute standard which you can compare genitalia to, against which trans women fail. However, as I pointed out earlier, as with most gendered characteristics there’s no straightforward or exhaustive way to define genitalia. My ‘ivory tower pontification’ as you put it is central to the lives of many many IS people, because it’s those standards which determine which gender Drs assign children with ambiguous genitalia to. Revealing the arbitrariness of those standards is one important step towards stopping early life surgeries on IS children. It’s also a step that has the side effect of revealing that actually bodies (genitalia included) aren’t straightforwardly natural, a revelation which might make a reasonable person reconsider his sentiments on the perceived naturalness of trans women’s vaginas.

    Your segue into discussing sexual violence in Africa is also pretty unpleasant- it seems to me that you’re trying to play on the emotional resonance of an appalling situation to reinforce your own bigotry and disgust towards the bodies of trans women. Managing to be both appropriative of African women’s tragedies and insulting towards trans women generally doesn’t seem too helpful.

  23. piny
    May 27, 2005 at 12:07 pm

    Every straight white male is one snip away from being a “lesbian.”

    Oooooh. At long last, I think I’ve figured out what Rich’s big problem with us is.

    Don’t worry, Rich. Your eggs are safe.

    Also, every single thing Tarn said. Thank you so much.

    Wrt intersexed appropriation: yes, I have encountered a very small number of transpeople who think it’s appropriate to use “intersexed” to describe themselves. I disagree vehemently for the reasons laid out here, basically–it is disrespectful, and it is inaccurate. Equating transgendered with intersex is like equating it with gay: there are similarities, but there are also crucial differences. Plus, we _already_ have a really hard time getting the mainstream to differentiate what they tend to see as an amorphous mass of freakishness; we _already_ have a really hard time giving people an accurate picture of the physiological and medical aspects of transition. These kinds of conflations make all of that much, much worse.

    Finally, from a cynical and pragmatic point of view, it just isn’t going to lead to greater acceptance. Binary enthusiasts don’t want to hear about intersexed people any more than they want to hear about transpeople. Any disgust about incongruent lives, bodies, or histories will translate to either group; bigots aren’t gonna like us better if we liken ourselves to another set of people they can’t deal with.

    Finally finally, this kind of rhetorical strategy makes my skin crawl. It’s like basing abortion rights on an appeal to rape victims’ rights without any reference to all those women who had consensual sex but should also have the right to abort. I wasn’t mutilated at birth. I can’t point to some “real” “biological” sex that my body must be “repaired” to. This does not mean that I don’t need to transition, any more than my college roommate didn’t need the right to terminate her pregnancy. This attempt to cram transgendered issues into intersex issues implies that transgender issues are not valid or genuine on their own.

  24. May 28, 2005 at 12:31 am

    The emphasis on her identity as female is to provide contrast to the US government’s absurd decision to classify her as male.

    You don’t seem to understand the difference between sex and gender. Go back to a 101 class, please.

  25. piny
    May 29, 2005 at 7:11 pm

    On the contrary, Tarn understands the difference perfectly well. You’re the one who refuses to admit any potential distinction between sex and gender.

    Actually, it’s the government’s refusal to recognize the difference between sex and gender that’s the issue here. The government has refused to honor this woman’s entire life; in order to prevent any queerness from entering into legal recognition, they’re negating her. Her body is female. Her gender is female. In every daily interaction, she is female. That’s why it’s so absurd, so disrespectful, and so dangerous to classify her as male. In order to retain her marriage, she must make her case for basic acknowledgement as someone who lives as female, and who will do so her entire life. She is forced to defend her gender by marshalling all of the support at her disposal. In some states, that means producing your genitalia for public inspection. She probably doesn’t locate her femaleness in her cunt, any more than I locate my maleness in mine.

    This kind of dichotomous frame doesn’t allow for the kind of complexity that most, if not all, transpeople feel. For example, when I get my gender changed in court, I won’t present as a queer, transmasculine, transgendered person whose experience is nowhere near as straightforward as the law demands. I’ll say that I’m post-op, which is technically true; that I live as male, which is true on most levels; and that I’m therefore male, which is what they believe. Then I’ll ask that they give me papers that will allow me to work, travel, and drive. It is not our fault that the law reduces us to manageable shadows, any more than it’s our fault that your bullshit theories reduce us to convenient bogeyfreaks.

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