Hong Kong has just granted a transgender woman permission to marry her partner. Although the region still does not permit marriage equality, this is a major mile stone in transgender equality. As reported by USA Today, "The surprise decision only covers the right of a transgender person who was born male to marry a man, and for one who was born female to marry a woman."
In Hong Kong, where marriage equality is still outlawed, LGBT matters rarely gain the attention of Hong Kong's top court. Even in the United States, one does not often see transgender and marriage issues being discussed simultaneously. The woman, only known as "W," expressed her gratitude for the ruling at a press conference stating that "I'm very glad that I can finally get married to my beloved boyfriend in Hong Kong, this is a victory for all women in Hong Kong." Of the 5 member panel, only 1 submitted a vote opposing the marriage.
Although the ruling will not take effect for another 12 months, Hong Kong joins Mainland China, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, New Zealand, and South Korea, of countries in the South Pacific to allow marriage involving a transgender person.
The south Pacific region has long been a progressive and accepting region towards transgender people. In such countries as Indonesia and Thailand, transgender people have long been considered a third gender and are accepted into society as fluidly as their cis-gendered counterparts. Australia in 2011 allowed residents who are gender ambiguous to use a third gender option on passport applications, which globally was a first for any country. The South Pacific region is proving to be more progressive in transgender inclusion than other parts of the world. Often time's transgender persons only find themselves in the media after becoming victims of hate crimes or from having suffered some form of discrimination.The recent actions of the Hong Kong government show that transgender persons are not just being tolerated but accepted as real citizens of society.
Although W was not in court when the ruling was made she had this to say,"I have lived my life as a woman and been treated as a woman in all respects except as regards to my right to marry, this decision rights that wrong."
On May 17th, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) will take place in over 70 countries. With Hong Kong's recent steps towards transgender inclusion, IDAHOT's campign will aid in giving other countries around the world inspiration in granting LGBT equality. In 2009, the campaign's focus was strongly geared towards transphobia. Globally Trans persons represent higher numbers for homeless, suicide, hate crime, and unemployment rates when compared to any other group. IDAHOT is based in Paris and headed by French academic Louis-Georges Tin. Since being founded in 2004, the campaign as gained official recognition in the United Kingdom, France, Costa Rica, Belgium, and the Netherlands.