Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Malta Star: Transgender woman wins battle to get married

30 November 2010 15:45

Joanne Cassar was denied permission to marry a man in Malta after having undergone gender reassessment surgery. Now, she has won a constitutional case, recognising her gender status as female and giving her the right to get married to her fiancé after all.

The ruling
Announced by the Constitutional Court today, Mr Justice Raymond C. Pace cited a previous European Court of Human Rights ruling (Christine Goodwin vs. UK), which established that a ban on transgender marriage violated Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the right to marry. Malta is bound to follow this decision.

Joanne Cassar had previously still been considered as being a man by the state. Now, the Constitutional Court’s decision freed Cassar to marry her long-standing male partner. However, the Registrar of Marriages still has 20 days to appeal the ruling.

Long battle
Ever since Cassar was a child she felt she was female. As she grew up, she decided to undergo gender reassignment surgery to solve this internal conflict.

Cassar’s battle to marry her fiancé began four years ago, in May 2006, when the Registrar of Marriages refused this request.

The reason given was that a man was not allowed to marry a man in Malta, although Cassar’s birth certificate had been amended after the surgery to reflect her gender change.

Cassar took the Marriage Registrar to court, and the first time it was ruled that her gender had been changed on the birth certificate to safeguard her privacy, and that this did not give her the rights of a "female" in light of the Marriage Act.

In her constitutional application, Ms Cassar now argued that the law as interpreted by the Maltese courts went against a judgment handed down by the European Court of Human Rights – and finally won her right to marry her fiancé.

Gender identity disorder
A person with a gender identity disorder strongly identifies with the other sex. The individual may identify with the opposite sex to the point of believing that he/she is, in fact, a member of the other sex who is trapped in the wrong body. This causes that person to experience serious discomfort with his/her own biological sex orientation.

A mental health professional makes a diagnosis of gender identity disorder by taking a careful personal history from the client/patient. However, it is very important not to overlook a physical illness that might mimic or contribute to a psychological disorder.

Adults who have severe gender identity disorder which has persisted for many years sometimes request reassignment of their sex, or sex-change surgery.

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