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Why trans people have won a major victory in the Scotland equal marriage fight

Why trans people have won a major victory in the Scotland equal marriage fight

The Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee unanimously passed an amendment to the same sex marriage Bill today (19 December) proposed by the Equality Network and Scottish Transgender Alliance.

The amendment, which will allow couples to have gender neutral marriage ceremonies regardless of whether they are legally mixed sex or same sex, is a significant win for transgender and intersex people.

Without our amendment all mixed sex couples having religious marriage ceremonies would have had to declare themselves to be husband and wife.

This would have been highly problematic for some trans people. For a number this would be because their overseas gender recognition is not automatically recognized in the UK.

That would mean an American trans woman, legally recognized as female at home but still legally male in the UK, would have had to stand in front of all of her guests and refer to herself as the husband.

For others, having to use the gendered terms husband and wife would be unacceptable because they don’t define their gender in that way. Some non-binary gender and intersex people do not identify as being simply either female or male and so prefer to use gender neutral terms.

Being able to say they accept each other in marriage, rather than as husband and wife, will mean that they can have a marriage ceremony that reflects who they are.

But the amendment is not just a good thing for trans and intersex people.

Some other mixed sex couples will be pleased to learn they no longer have to use the terms husband and wife because of the traditional patriarchal connotations associated with them.

Declaring themselves to be married rather than husband and wife will feel a lot more equal to such couples.

This is just one of five improvements to the Bill which we have been calling for to ensure it delivers true marriage equality for trans and intersex people.

The other amendments proposed by the Equality Network and Scottish Transgender Alliance, including one to remove the spousal veto, will be debated by the Committee early in the New Year.

Nathan Gale is a development worker at Scottish Transgender Alliance.