Texas transgender people like myself have long understood that living in a specific county and petitioning a particularly progressive judge to amend our drivers licence was key in establishing our correct gender identity, regardless if you were post SRS. Because there was no law or ruling by the Attorney General it allowed us to fly under the radar in this the bluest of states. It was our secret.
This allowed Texas transgender people to live our lives presenting ourselves as who we truly are without fear of arrest in the workplace and in most social situations. Most.
This is all possibly coming about to a screeching halt as our anonymity has become headlines because of the marriage controversies. Texas transgender people such as myself have our worlds riding on the outcome of the Nikki Araguz litigation recently filed in the 245th District Court of Wharton County, In the Estate of Thomas Trevino Araguz III, Deceased, Cause No. 44575.
“EL PASO, Texas — El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal on Monday announced that the Office of the Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has formally declined to issue a legal opinion regarding the granting of marriage licenses to individuals who have undergone sex change operations.”
“The request was made after two Hudspeth County women – Sabrina Hill and Therese Bur requested, and were denied, a marriage license in El Paso in February of this year. As proof of identification, Hill presented a birth certificate identifying her as a male, a court order approving his name change from a male to female, and an Arizona driver’s license with her new identity as a female.”
“Presented with conflicting documents, the El Paso County Clerk’s Office requested guidance from the County Attorney’s Office as to the eligibility of the applicants to obtain a marriage license.”
Legal analysis revealed the existence of a legal gray area around this particular issue, raised by recent changes adopted by the Texas Legislature. Up until 2009, the identity and gender of a marriage license applicant was established through a birth certificate.
“However, during the 81st Session, the Texas Legislature expanded the list of documents acceptable to establish proof of identity and age for purposes of obtaining a marriage license. Section 2.005(b) of the Texas Family Code lists the nineteen documents approved and, to make things more difficult, all are given equal legal weight. This is important for transgender individuals, as conflicting information on various personal documents may arise not from fraud, but because of sex reassignment surgery, and so transgender applicants should be able to self-identify their gender, as opposed to a court doing it for them.”
“In a letter dated on August 6, 2010, the Texas Attorney General’s Office notified the El Paso County Attorney’s Office that they will refrain from answering any questions or issuing an opinion, and in fact are closing the file on this request. The reason provided for this action is that issues included in the opinion request are the subject of pending litigation recently filed in the 245th District Court of Wharton County, In the Estate of Thomas Trevino Araguz III, Deceased, Cause No. 44575. The letter further states that, once that litigation is concluded, the El Paso County Attorney could submit another request if these questions remain unresolved.”
“El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal expressed her disappointment regarding the decision of the Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott.”
“Unfortunately, the ambiguity in the law and confusion for the County clerk remains,” Bernal concluded.