Last week, I promised my hand and heart to the love of my life. Today, I received our marriage certificate, and tomorrow, I'm hanging it on my wall as testament to the fact that I gamed the system: I married another woman in a state that does not allow same-sex marriage. I couldn't be happier.
It's funny, but the reason I was able to marry my wife is that we live in one of the most homophobic and transphobic regions of the U.S. My lovely wife is a transgender woman, and our state allows few to no provisions for people like her. Her driver's license, birth certificate, and social security card all identify her as a man with a man's name, and they probably always will. As far as the law sees it, because my wife was born male-bodied, she will always be a man.
That's bad news for the thousands of transgender people who are forced to carry IDs that say the wrong gender on them, but the silver lining is that it granted us the right to a federally-recognized marriage, something that most lesbian couples, as of now, can't have. Our state's refusal to acknowledge my wife's gender identity also gives us the many rights that come with marriage that are denied to most same-sex couples. We'll be filing taxes together this year, and my wife will be legally adopting my daughter by the end of the summer. There are benefits to the fact that the law still considers her male, because we receive many privileges that are normally reserved for heterosexual couples.
Our wedding was small but beautiful. The ceremony was private with just the two of us and our excited five-year-old daughter. We donned matching black-and-white dresses with pearl jewelry and had a close friend take photos of us. Our minister and her partner led a perfect, touching ceremony, and we were handfasted with rainbow ribbons when the moment came for us to literally tie the knot. Members of our church threw us a lovely reception, then we slipped away to a nice hotel for a one-night honeymoon.
The receptionist at the hotel was confused when we showed up in our dresses and, lovesick and excited, mentioned that we were newlyweds. He asked where we'd come from, and when we told him we were local, he said, "Oh, so it was a commitment ceremony? You weren't allowed to get married, were you?" We nodded to him and said that we were, in fact, legally married, and then left him to puzzle over it. I wonder if he ever figured out how two women married each other in a state as conservative and discriminatory as ours.
There's always a chance that our state might turn around and try to strip us of the rights we're entitled to as a married couple, but, to do that, they'd have to actually validate my wife's gender identity -- something that I can't see happening in a state with high levels of transgender discrimination. For now, my state insists on considering my wife a man, and, for the first time, we're happy with the fact that they do. In many ways, bull-headed bigotry has actually worked in our favor and granted us a right that most couples like us will never have.