Israel celebrates its first public transgender wedding

Israel celebrates its first public wedding between a transgender woman and a man 

Israel celebrates its first public transgender wedding
20 January 2013

The couple, blonde beauty Chen Arizona and her husband, whose identity was not revealed, were cheered by Israeli celebrities, friends and family.

The wedding was televised by Israel’s Channel 2 evening news and watched throughout the country.

Arizona who runs a salon near Tel Aviv, was born Erez Yisraelof, one of four siblings, into a traditional Orthodox Jewish family.

She was in an eight years relationship but when she decided to transition her partner left her, two years ago.

The process of becoming Arizona was long and arduous both psychologically and physically, with hormone treatments, breast implants, and numerous surgeries.

She said she met several men who told her they loved her ‘body and soul’, but then wouldn’t even invite her for a coffee in a café, lest they were seen in public with a transgender woman.

Arizona said she felt despair and like many transgender people in Israel, she thought she end up living on the margins of a society that rejects them.

Channelle, a transgender woman and a friend of Arizona said: ‘Not everyone here is a professional stylist, there are some of us that work in a different field, sex work’.

Her husband, who prefers discretion, was married with three children prior to their relationship.

Now that her dream came true she said: ‘Every man that likes transgenders would have loved to stand in his [her husband’s] shoes, but not everyone has the courage to do it, and say “I do”. He went all the way with his decision and for that; I take my hat off for him’.

The ceremony was officiated by TV celebrity Avri Gilad and attended by other celebrities, including singer Arik Sinai who sang for the couple.

Arizona’s mother and sisters also attended the wedding, although her father did not. Her husband’s family did not respect his decision.

Speaking with GSN, attorney Irit Rosenblum, founder and CEO of the New Family advocacy group said: ‘I congratulate their courage and their marriage.

‘There have been quite a few marriages involving transgender people in Israel, but non have received such media attention.

‘However the manner in which it was handled in the Israeli media was a bit circus-like and irresponsible.

‘In reality it is a powerful and difficult process from a personal struggle to a realization of identity and self-acceptance.

‘A legal agreement for partnership is an excellent base for partners that enable an official legal recognition and regulation of the relationship in a transparent and secure manner’.

Speaking with GSN, Shabi Gatenio, chair of the political division of the Aguda, Israel’s main LGBT organization said: ‘Post-op transgender men and women can register their gender and legally marry the opposite sex in Israel.

‘However, transgender men and women in transition or who have not had an operation face discrimination; they cannot legally register their gender’.

‘In addition there is a problem for mixed sex-couples where one of the partners transitions; the Israeli state would not enable them to register as a couple as same-sex marriage is not possible in Israel.

‘The Israeli state needs to allow transgender people to register their gender irrespective if they are pre or post-op, as well as solve the marriage issues by allowing same-sex marriage’.

Watch Israel’s Channel 2 report of Arizona’s wedding (in Hebrew):

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