Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Times: Gender reassignment case: 'People marry for love' - Joanne Cassar


Wednesday, 1st December 2010 - 08:35CET by Claudia Calleja

Joanne Cassar has spoken of her joy after a judge yesterday gave her the go-ahead to marry a man after ruling that her gender reassignment surgery should not prejudice her right to have a husband

"When I heard the judge read out the judgment I couldn't believe it... I wanted to phone everyone I knew... I started from my mother and father," Ms Cassar said with a surprising look of sadness in her eyes.

"All this forces me to remember the hardships I had to endure to achieve what is mine by right," the 29-year-old said.

When she started fighting out the marriage battle four years ago, she was a woman about to get married. Her wedding was planned for December 2007. The stress of the court battle, coupled with the publicity, piled pressure on the couple's relationship and they are no longer together. Despite this, she continued fighting for the right to marry some day.

"I'm worried they will appeal the judgment," Ms Cassar said adding: "I've been through the experience".

In February 2007, Ms Cassar won a civil case in which the court ordered the Marriage Registrar to issue the wedding banns he had previously refused to issue. However, in May 2008, the decision was revoked on appeal.

The court ruled Ms Cassar would never be considered to be a "woman" according to the Marriage Act and declared the change in her birth certificate, allowing a change of name and gender, was only intended to protect the right to privacy and to avoid embarrassment.

Determined to fight for her right to marry, she opened a case in the First Hall of the Civil Court in its constitutional jurisdiction, claiming a breach of human rights.

"I fought for the principle. When I opened the case I was engaged and had everything planned to get married. I can say this problem disrupted my life. I hope now that I have been granted the right to marry they do not take it away in an appeal... I will keep fighting even if I remain single all my life. This is my right and no one can take it.

"I'm not taking anything from anyone. I'm not forcing anyone to marry me. It bothers me that people pass certain comments like, I should not get married because I can't have children. People marry for love," she said with conviction.

"I was born with a disorder and underwent surgery to fix it. Today, I'm a woman and want to live a normal life like any woman," Ms Cassar added.

She had been diagnosed with gender identity disorder, a conflict between a person's physical or apparent gender and that person's self-identification.

From an early age, she felt she should have been a woman. After keeping her feelings bottled up for years and enduring bullying at school, when she turned 15 she opened up to her parents who were immediately supportive.

Aged 22 she travelled to the UK for her gender reassignment surgery. Before going under the knife she was subjected to various hormone treatments and medical and psychiatric tests to ensure she was medically and psychologically prepared for the invasive surgery.

Soon after she filed a court application to have her gender changed to female on her birth certificate. The court upheld the request allowing her documents to truly reflect who she felt she was.

Having been with her boyfriend for several years they planned to get married in December 2007. All did not go as planned, however Ms Cassar remained convinced the right to marry deserved to be fought for even if she was not the lucky one to walk down the aisle.

"Good luck to whoever can take this step I always wished to take. God willing, they will marry for the right reasons and not to show off or get some form of money in return," she said.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

No comments:

Post a Comment