In a surprise decision that shocked even the couple themselves, the Taiwanese government has decided not to revoke a marriage between two trans women.
After a marathon meeting with colleagues from justice and welfare ministries and other experts, the Interior Ministry announced today (7 Aug) that the marriage license of Abbygail Wu and Ji-yi Wu should remain valid.
It said the Wus were indeed ‘a man and a woman’ in accordance with civil law when the registration took place. The government respects people's right to change their gender, it added.
The couple was ecstatic and kissed each other on the lips upon learning of the decision. Abbygail admitted she had thought the government would either drag its feet or simply revoke the marriage.
‘I have not expected the marriage to stay intact,’ she said, as reported by Central News Agency. The couple said they may adopt a child in the future.
The Wus were forced to stay outside for most of the meeting with some 30 supporters who clashed violently with police at a point after being barred from entering. The couple were eventually given three minutes to make their case in the 3.5 hour meeting.
The Wus both transitioned from male to female in July last year. They tied the knot in October, but Ji-yi chose not to register her new gender until this year. Shortly after, they received a letter from the Interior Ministry asking to revoke the marriage, questioning their genders.
Even though the Interior Ministry has remained adamant that only a man and a woman can marry, Abbygail said in the very least it can now see diversity in gender and is willing to try and recognize different genders.
Many of Abbygail’s transgender and gay friends want to form their own family and enjoy statutory marriage rights and duties, but not everyone is free or ready to fight. This was what drove her to speak for other minorities, she said.
The longest distance in the world is where 'you are my spouse but are nowhere to be seen in my passport,' Abbgail said.
'Marriage simply should not be limited to a man and a woman.'
LGBT groups are hopeful the Wus can be a precedent for more diverse forms of marriage going forward.
In 1994, the Taiwanese government had already said yes to a ‘homosexual’ marriage, when the husband legally changed his gender, Chao-yu Chen, National Taiwan University’s Associate Professor for Law, has told Gay Star News.
According to the ruling that underpins today's decision, a change of gender during a legally recognized marriage does not affect a person’s marital standing or the person’s relationship with his or her offspring.
This and the Wus’ case have upheld people’s right to change their gender, effectively giving the nod to de facto same-sex marriages, Chen said.
A poll released this week showed that 53% Taiwanese are for same-sex marriage, twice as many as a decade ago.