30 years married and forced to choose between marriage and identity
A couple married for over 30 years could be forced to get divorced, if they want to recognise one partner’s true gender.
Janet and Penny Whetton met when they were students and lived as Janet and Peter for the first 12 years of their marriage. After having two children together, Penny began to transition.
“I couldn’t live out my life along the way that I’d been doing. I had to be true to myself,” she toldChannel 10’s the The Project.
Committed to her wife, Janet said she never considered ending their relationship, but admitted being shocked at first.
She said: “Given that there was that sense that we still love each other it didn’t really challenge the marriage.
“I really do love her. I love her as Penny as I loved her as Peter.”
As well as preventing same-sex couples from getting married, Australia’s current marriage laws also place the burden of choice on couples with a trans partner.
Essentially, Penny like thousands of others, has to choose between getting a divorce or having her gender listed as female on her birth certificate.
Under current marriage laws in Australia, transgender people who are married can change their gender on their passports and driver’s licenses.
However because the federal government doesn’t recognise marriage equality or allow states to, they have to divorce their husband or wife in order to have their correct gender changed on their birth certificate.
While Penny said she would love to have her birth certificate say she is female, she believes her relationship is even more important to her.