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Judge Rules Texas Transgender Man's Marriage Valid

Judge Rules Texas Transgender Man's Marriage Valid


A Dallas County judge has declined to void the marriage of a transgender man to a woman -- an outcome far different, and more positive for trans people, from that in some high-profile Texas cases.

Judge Lori Chrisman Hockett last week refused to nullify the marriage of James Allan Scott and Rebecca Louise Robertson; Robertson had sought the nullification on the basis that Scott was born biologically female and Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage, the Dallas Voice reports. She instead ruled that their breakup should proceed as a divorce -- which will allow Scott, who is physically disabled from scoliosis, a chance at a fair share of the couple's property, said his lawyer, Eric Gormly.

"To our knowledge, this is the first time any Texas court has ruled that a transsexual man who marries a biological woman is in a legitimate marriage," Gormly told the Voice.

Scott and Robertson separated in 2010 after 12 years of marriage. When they married, Robertson was fully aware and supportive of Scott's transgender status, according to court records. He has undergone hormone therapy and surgical gender-reassignment procedures, although not a phalloplasty, which the Voice describes as "an expensive, imperfect and dangerous procedure." He has obtained a corrected birth certificate from his native state of Iowa identifying him as male. But Robertson petitioned in September 2010 to have the marriage voided, and Scott filed a counterpetition for divorce in February.

In another Texas case, Nikki Araguz, a transgender woman, has been seeking a share of her late husband's death benefits; he was a firefighter killed on the job. A Wharton County judge has ruled their marriage void because Nikki was born biologically male; the case is on appeal. In a 1999 case the Texas Court of Appeals ruled that a transgender woman did not have the standing to file a wrongful death claim after her husband died during surgery, saying gender is assigned at birth and cannot be changed, and therefore their marriage was invalid.

Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, tells The Advocate most states have long recognized the right of transgender people to marry in their confirmed gender, but a small number of judges in conservative states have been resistant, leading to rulings like the latter two.

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