Among the dozens of pro-equality protesters outside the Rowan County Courthouse, calling for antigay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis to do her job Tuesday, was Camryn Colen, his wife, Alexis, and their 1-year-old daughter. Colen made headlines last month when he revealed Davis approved his marriage license to wed his pansexual cisgender (nontrans) wife.
Colen is a transgender man.
Colen, whose birth certificate still identifies him as female, tells The Advocate Kim Davis issued their marriage license without checking his legal information in February.
Before stepping forward to tell his story, Colen was not out as being transgender. "I was very stealth," he says. "Other then family and close friends, I refused to tell anyone."
But given the controversy that began when Davis refused to follow orders by Kentucky's governor and federal court, and has now extended all the way to the Supreme Court, Colen felt it was important to publicly come out as trans and about his marriage.
And suddenly their names and faces were all over the news.
"We're not doing it for us," Colen toldThe Independent.
"We're married. That's for us. We have a daughter. That's for us. We're doing it for the rest of the community. We're going to prove to Kim Davis that she can't judge a book by its cover."
And, Colen tells The Advocate, the fact that Davis has already married a couple such as themselves proves her fears of marriage equality are unfounded. Davis has said she believes the "searing act of validation would forever echo in her conscience."
Despite our inquiries about whether she hears that echo now, Davis has not responded to The Advocate.
"We came forward because the community needed to know that she had already given out a license to a same-sex couple," Colen says.
He's not ignorant of the risk he took. Transgender people sometimes choose to remain closeted for fear coming out will expose their families and themselves to violence and ridicule, endanger their jobs, cause the loss of their home, and strain or break relationships with loved ones.
Those are some of the reasons Colen remained stealth, or decided against publicly disclosing his true gender identity, when he received legal recognition of his marriage in February. Still, he felt it was his responsibility to help others with their transition.
"A lot of trans people are not far in the process but still want to marry," he says. "I know most will wait for a name and gender marker change before applying. For those who don't have that option, gay marriage makes it [possible] for some of them to marry who they love."
Alexis Colen, who identifies as pansexual and goes by "Lexie," says she never wanted to get married before meeting Camryn. "We hope that we can help our community get the freedom and respect they deserve, in hopes that one day equality won't have to be fought for."
In their daughter's first year on earth, her parents got married, the Supreme Court upheld marriage equality as the law of the land, and her dad came out as transgender. The question that remains: How old will she be before Rowan County issues marriage licenses to all its citizens?