UK High Court rules marriage between woman and trans man is invalid as both were ‘legally female’

Emma Powys Maurice November 21, 2019
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Trans marriage

The couple were married in 2009, before same-sex marriage was legally recognised in the UK (Pexels)

A woman and a trans man have been told by a High Court judge that their ten-year marriage is invalid because both were legally female during the ceremony.

The couple, who are referred to in court documents as AP and JP, were married in 2009 when same-sex marriage was not recognised under English law.

In 1990, AP underwent gender confirmation surgery and transitioned from female to male at the age of 34. by the time he married JP he’d been living as a man for nearly 19 years.

But because he didn’t obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate or update his gender on his birth certificate – both of which were difficult to achieve before the 2004 Gender Recognition Act – he was still legally a female when he tied the knot.

“I do not wish to have my marriage declared void. This would be emotionally very distressing for us both,” AP told the court.

However, in the absence of a Gender Recognition Certificate, the judge ruled that AP “is and always has been female” and the marriage was therefore legally invalid.

“At the relevant time, a marriage between two persons of the same sex was void at its inception and the Court does not have the power to make the declaration sought,” the judge explained.

(Envato Elements)

AP and JP were said to be “distressed” by the High Court ruling.

“This is a very sad outcome for this couple who believed they had been legally married for the last 10 years,” solicitor Simon Blain told The Telegraph.

“It is one of several recent examples of the law failing to keep pace with the speed of societal change. As increasing numbers of people question traditional concepts of gender, the legal framework put in place by the Gender Recognition Act 2004 appears outdated and unfair.”

Solicitor Siddique Patel warned that the case has “potential implications for other couples falling within the same background circumstances”.

The impact of this could affect some couples’ taxation, inheritance and pension rights.

Related topics: divorce, gender recognition act, gender recognition certificate, same sex marriage, UK High Court

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