Transsexual ruling poses no conflict

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 May, 2013, 5:21am

I refer to Edward Choi's letter ("Ruling on transsexual raises issues about family and marriage", May 20).

Mr Choi suggests that procreation remains one of the main purposes of marriage. However, it is well known that the birth rate in Hong Kong is one of the lowest in the world. The majority judges in W v Registrar of Marriages were correct in pointing out that many people marry without having children at all.

By turning the issue of marriage and family into one of procreation, Mr Choi has effectively disregarded the existence of adoptive families.

Even where a married couple are unable to procreate, they may choose to adopt children, and the adoptive family is a family just like any other.

Mr Choi contends that there should be a different relationship for transsexual people, namely "transsexual unions". This is completely unheard of in any jurisdiction allowing transsexuals to marry.

One would question whether a transsexual union is a union between two transsexual persons, or whether it would be so even if only one party to the union is a transsexual. But, more importantly, the odd - and quite possibly offensive - part of this suggestion is the labelling. The point of the W judgment is not only to recognise transsexual marriage, but, more importantly, to recognise a transsexual person as not only of their post-operative gender socially, but also legally. Regarding them as in a "transsexual" category of their own means that they are still "neither here nor there".

Furthermore, the "transsexual union" label means forced disclosure of their status as a transsexual when dealing with marital status. When it is quite obvious that such forced disclosure may result in discrimination, and that for example the Gender Recognition Act 2004 in the UK has provisions expressly prohibiting the disclosure of such information, it makes one wonder why Hong Kong should create a separate legal relationship for transsexuals which gives them an unnecessary label and denies them the recognition as being of their post-operative gender.

Finally, Mr Choi's use of words such as "destroying" the concept of marriage is completely unwarranted. In jurisdictions where transsexuals are recognised as being of their post-operative gender (including China, Japan, Singapore, and many European countries), the institution of marriage can hardly be said to have been destroyed. Recognising transsexuals' rights does not infringe upon the rights of non-transsexuals.

Patrick Jiang, Tsim Sha Tsui