X Factor contestant Paige Phoenix highlighted an often untouched part of the marriage equality debate on Saturday when he told of getting married to his wife, only to have it revoked on a technicality.
The transgender man shared his story with Melbourne’s 2000-strong crowd at the Equal Love rally in front of the State Library of Victoria.
Phoenix spoke of wanting to get married ever since he was a child and said he had wanted to marry his partner Sarah the moment they met.
In Australia, transgender people have to undergo invasive gender reassignment surgery to have their birth certificates changed, however changing the sex on an Australian passport has become much easier since 2011.
Instead of using a birth certificate, Phoenix used his passport which states his sex as male as documentation for the marriage license.
The couple were issued with a marriage license despite fears they would get caught
After the wedding, Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria informed the couple their marriage was invalid after learning of Phoenix’s birth sex from his birth certificate.
He was ordered to return the marriage certificate to the marriage celebrant who was ordered to remove their marriage from their records.
Phoenix, who has yet to return the certificate, said “they will get it from my cold, dead hands”.
Phoenix told the Star Observer marriage equality had a very deep, personal significance to him.
He said he needed to be honest about how the marriage laws had affected them as a couple and also addressed criticisms from the community that they had been able to get legally married while others could not.
“Also because what I became aware of was that it’s part of that internalised shaming and devaluing process to feel like it’s a dirty little secret that you shouldn’t tell anyone about that we had been kicked out of the marriage register and so I feel like I needed it for myself,” he said.
He agreed transgender and intersex people were still overlooked in the marriage debate.
“It still speaks to the basic issue that gender is a factor in whether or not people are able to legally marry,” he said.
Other speakers from Saturday included Greens Melbourne MP Adam Bandt, Equal Love’s Louise O’Shea and comedian and ABC presenter Adam Hills.
During the march, followed by the speeches, protesters chalked up their own rainbow crossing on a road in Melbourne’s CBD.
Equal Love’s next rally is planned for August, a month out from the September 14 federal election.