Australian trans man Paige Phoenix describes his wedding as the "happiest day of my life." Three weeks after the ceremony, he experienced one of his worst: Victoria's Birth, Deaths, and Marriages office demanded he and his wife return their marriage certificate so it could be destroyed.
On that fateful afternoon, the couple opened a letter to learn that the governmental agency had cross-checked his birth certificate against the passport he'd provided as legal proof of his gender prior to marriage, reports the Canberra Times. Upon learning that Phoenix was assigned "female" at birth, the state, which considers marriage only legal between a man and woman, voided their union.
In order to change gender on a birth certificate, Victoria's transgender citizens must first undergo gender reassignment surgery — a requirement that Phoenix claims violates his and other trans people's human rights. And although he has chosen to forego particular procedures due to a prohibitive medical condition, he maintains that requiring invasive, irreversible surgery for any trans person — whether they are medically able to undergo the procedures or not — is unconscionable.
"When we're forced to do things like go under the knife and have life-threatening surgery in order to have our sex recognized, it's ridiculous," he explains in the recorded statement below. "No one should have to … have parts of their bodies removed that they don't necessarily want removed."
In 2013, Phoenix lodged his first complaint to the United Nation's Human Rights Committee — and he is prepared to continue pursuing it. "I still have my marriage certificate. [The state] will get it out of my cold, dead hands," he declared to a crowd at Melbourne's 2013 Equal Love Rally.
A musician and entertainer, Phoenix is no stranger to the public spotlight. In 2011, he made headlines as the first openly transsexual participant to compete on Australia's The X Factor.
For more from Phoenix, watch the clip below.