Who thought Republicans, of all people, would carry the torch of social progress? But to those who support federal and state marriage amendments to discriminate against homosexuals, I salute your biblically ordained effort to preserve the Constitutional rights of transgendered people to wed.
Your intention to protect transgender marriage is clear in the language of the proposed federal amendment: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.”
Thank you, wise congressmen, for the loophole guaranteeing the rights of men who’ve become women to marry men, and vice versa. Cynics might call this an oversight. I call it forward thinking.
For too long, society has pushed transgendered people to the margins, regarding them with such abhorrence even gays and lesbians embrace them with stiff arms. As today’s gays enjoy unprecedented exposure through popular media, transgenders suffer the comic indignity of the Wayans brothers masquerading on screen as “White Chicks.” Well, who’s turning green now?
Transgendered people consider themselves born in the wrong bodies. Through a combination of surgery, drugs and fashion, they’re looking largely to repair and liberate themselves from what they perceive as birth defects. Thanks to Republicans, now there’s a perk.
Transsexual.org estimates one in 30,000 people is either transsexual or transgender (this Web site distinguishes between the two). That would mean around 9,800 are sprinkled around the United States – more than the combined number of votes in the last presidential election separating George W. Bush from Al Gore in Wisconsin, New Mexico and Florida.
According to transsexual.org, “transsexuality is most commonly caused by stress-related hormonal changes in the womb, (so) the number of transsexuals in any society would logically flux, based on the current state of affairs within a generation. There is evidence that more transsexuals are born during or following war.”
Perhaps President Bush, in his complex world view, sees the causal relationship between his invasion of Iraq and an anticipated rise in the transgender population. By supporting a Constitutional amendment allowing transgenders to marry, Bush is taking responsibility for at least one cost of this war and illustrating a compassionate conservatism that could impress this literal group of swing voters.
On the whole, gays and lesbians are perfectly fine with the gender bestowed upon them at conception. Many still want to marry, and who can blame them – Bush’s $1.5 billion initiative this year to promote “healthy marriage” is bound to have some persuasive effect. Should the proposed amendment find its way into the Constitution, gays and lesbians in “healthy relationships” eager to follow through on the President’s moral myopia will have a viable legal option – to undergo sex changes in order to wed.
Once they comprehend the ramifications of this Constitutional loophole, some Republicans and Christian conservative groups will certainly work to close it. Their challenge: How?
Will they mandate medical examinations of every man and woman to ensure “natural” gender before granting marriage licenses? Nevada would throw a fit. So would Elizabeth Taylor. Officials could grant licenses on the honor system, but thanks to their exclusion from the Boy Scouts and United States military, open gays and lesbians no longer have outlets from which to learn honor. Devoid of honor, they’ll merely falsify their applications.
Republicans certainly want to do right by transgendered Americans, but it’s clear they didn’t think things through. While transgenders are certainly due their place in society, the benefits of these proposed amendments aren’t worth tearing apart the GLBT community through wedding envy. And we don’t want tens of thousands of homosexual Americans altering their bodies merely to wed in compliance with the Constitution.
Congress can avoid this mess by upholding the Constitution’s greatest tenet – to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” – at least until John Ashcroft finds a way to classify gay or transgender marriage an act of domestic terrorism and ships every offending couple to Guantanamo Bay.
Matt Peiken is a staff arts and features writer at the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org .