Angry doesn't do it justice.
Initially, like many others, I was delighted that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act passed through the House of Lords in its Second Reading.
I was delighted for gay and lesbian friends who are finally being given the right to celebrate their love on a basis equal to others - despite the poisonous and bigoted attitudes poured out all over them by representatives of Establishment, of Church and by sundry other bigots en route.
In one respect - as a side effect of the bill - there's been a general view that the transgender community (more specifically transsexual people) has benefited in its quest to be treated as equal human beings too. Previously, an individual who needed to transition and who was in a marriage that had - against the odds - held together, would be denied the chance to be legally recognised in his or her new (ie genuine) gender unless he or she got divorced.
Transition is hard enough already on families, but this requirement (which existed because two people of the same gender could not be married - the outcome if legal transition of one took place) was for some a bitter pill indeed. Couples who could see further than the sterile pink/blue world many inhabit and who married each other for something deeper were being broken apart, with children amongst the innocent victims. And yet without divorce, the transitioning partner would simply have to carry on, unable to get their papers changed, unable to be recognised by the State, for who they really are.
The Equal Marriage Bill will end that requirement, as couples of the same gender can now be married.
And that's good news.
But it wasn't long before some other provisions of the proposed bill - now travelling fast towards Royal Assent - began to come to light. Provisions that are built in to ensure that whilst trans people benefit from (essentially) a side effect of the legislation, they should continue to understand that they are not actually equal under British law, and that their basic human right to claim and own their own identity does not take precedence over the 'needs' of the rest of the community to be 'protected' from them.
Because under the surface of this legislation still lurks the odour of stigma and prejudice.
This first whiff of this crops up in one particular clause. It indicates that if a married person wishes to legally transition and stay married, then that person needs to get the written permission of their spouse first.
If you are a cisgender reader of this blog, that might, perhaps, seem reasonable? No-one should be 'jumped' into a partner suddenly wanting to do something like this without your consent, of course (though with transsexual people being forced to 'live in role' for two years before even being allowed to 'ask' for surgery - it's not exactly likely).
But let's take a look more deeply at some of the legal implications - and at the moral foundation below them...
Firstly, of course, the situation is unlikely to arise often - granted. If one partner in a marriage has a major difficulty with the other dealing with their gender needs in this way, it's pretty unlikely that they are going to be keen to stay married anyway. And if they are supportive of their partner's actions, then the 'permission' they are asked to give should be a formality?
Perhaps. But this is not the issue.
The legislation is making a legal point. The needs of one spouse shall - in law - take precedence over those of the other. Irrespective of other considerations. And specifically, the desire of one spouse to preserve the status quo of a marriage is deemed to be more important - in law - than the profound and central human right of the other to be who they are. To claim their own identity and to live it.
The idea of needing another's 'consent' to be who you are is sickening - and it remains sickening even if cases in which it arises are rare. There are principles in play here - and the Bill's assumptions about whose rights should prevail should the issue ever make an appearance are clear. It's reminiscent of the era in which a woman needed to get the 'permission' of a husband to gain a divorce - whatever the circumstances of the marriage, the 'right' of one partner to remain married took precedence over the right of the other even to not be beaten to a pulp. Sometimes.
But there's worse to come.
It has now come to light that the Act sustains and refreshes a deeply problematic and legally obscure part of the 2004 Gender Recognition Act. The government, led by Minster Helen Grant, is aware of this. Could have supported a change, easily, in this major review of marital law. Has refused.
Fresh on the heels of a case in which an individual was found guilty in a British court of 'obtaining sex by deception' because he (a trans man who was still biologically female) did not disclose his past to a partner, the Bill does nothing to change the legal requirement for a person with a transsexual past, who has a Gender Recognition Certificate (and potentially even an amended Birth Certificate - both documents that are supposed to be entirely private and held in very secure settings in civil service files) to disclose their gender history to a potential spouse.
Failure to do this can constitute grounds for annulment.
The failure to address this little piece of poison, which made its first appearance in the 2004 Act, reconfirms the law in a way which runs against the entire spirit of the equalities legislation some have been working so hard to bring forward. At the risk of being accused of Godwinism, I can't help thinking of the Nazi's 'Racial Purity' laws - laws by which your family history had to be disclosed before you could marry to ensure that no 'Jewish blood' inconveniently popped up somewhere in your genealogy. It's the last time I can think of in Europe when a law said that who you are, now, is not enough. And that on the basis of something about which you had no control, something profoundly, and morally irrelevant, you could be denied legal rights with no further recourse.
I am a woman with a transsexual past. I am fairly open about that - to those who are sensitively interested and whom I judge worthy of my hearing the information - in situations in which it is appropriate for me to discuss it.
It's a choice I make. My choice. Perhaps there are things about your past you choose to share with others, or choose to withhold?
Often I choose not to talk about my trans past - it is simply irrelevant. At work it plays no role at all. Sometimes I feel that it could stimulate a misunderstanding I do not want, or get in the way by taking the focus off other, more important, things.
There are times in my life when I just get bored by having to explain it all over again. Sometimes I don't say anything because I don't want to be laughed at, or beaten up.
Critically these are decisions I take, and the 2004 Act is supposed to protect me in these decisions. Or so most of it said. I am quoting directly from it - it tells me that I am "for all legal purposes" of the gender indicated on the documentation I waited all my life to get.
Frankly, I don't need a piece of paper from Whitehall, or from anyone, to tell me who I am, but my new Birth Certificate and the GRC which allowed me to get it has been an important tool in claiming my right to be treated with respect and dignity by British society - by its officialdom and bureaucracy.
But the 2004 Act left one issue ambiguous, and it has sat like an unpaid bill on the statute books for almost a decade. The matter of disclosure around marriage.
The Equal Marriage Bill restates that I do not actually have the right to be treated in my legal gender under all circumstances. It is going to say I am not for all legal purposes female, because it confirms another's right to make a judgement for themselves - and for their conclusion to be automatically supported in law if they disagree with mine.
It is going to confirm that the authenticity of my gender is once again NOT for me to decide, but, in this case, for a prospective spouse to have the final word.
Once again, let me be completely clear. This is not about how often this might, or might not, happen. Though actually, a person wanting to leave behind decades of prejudice, abuse, or violence and not share hard memories with someone they love is not a situation so difficult to imagine. Especially in the world in which we live.
Speaking for myself, single, interested in forming a relationship with a man, I think it very likely that I would share my past with a prospective partner - a relationship of trust, for me, needs to be founded on such things.
But I thought that this was something for me to decide. I thought, in a civilised, progressive society, with an Act passed nine years ago which purported to give me legal equality as a human being, that I owned my past. If you are cisgender and are reading this you have this right. I was wrong.
And when that bill passes, it will specifically and directly reinforce an unpleasant irony - uniquely for people like me. Because I actually have a GRC. I have been through the 'system', like the 2004 legislation said I should. Had I not done so, I would not have to share my life story in this way, it seems.
So much for the Gender Recognition Act.
Thus I am part of an absolutely unique club. A club you cannot join even if you are a convicted paedophile. Or a murderer. Or if you beat up your last partner. The club of those people who are required by law to share something about their previous life to a prospective marriage partner. And I haven't even committed a crime.
Good law has its basis in a good, moral foundation. And it doesn't take long to track the principles which underpin this thinking in the Bill, and in the governments unwillingness to review it, back to a very familiar prejudice - now having light shone on it as the legislation passes though Parliament.
That prejudice continues to say that we, as transgender people, might just be making all this up. That we are not actually who and what we say we are.
Or at least, that our word is not enough. The final judge must be another person, on whose mercy we must publicly, humiliatingly throw ourselves. The implication is clear. Another must be allowed the chance to say "Ewwww, I don't want to marry you if you're once of those". And protestations that we are simply who we say we are, that we are being honest, are not enough. And nor, it seems, is that new Birth Certificate I have been given, anymore.
Thus, when I say to the world the simple phrase, "I am a woman", as other women are permitted to, I am reminded now more than ever that there are still relatively few in positions of power in our society who are prepared to accept that, unequivocally, and on the basis simply of my saying it. Society endlessly puts in front of me hurdles to jump, 'proofs' to provide. I thought that the Gender Recognition Act and my completion of all the tasks it set me would be enough. I was wrong, as I now see - again. Women who were born - lucky them - with a physiology which reflected their own internal notion of themselves - do not have this problem. Do not endlessly have the burden of proof of who they are placed on them. Do not have to clear one set of obstacles in front of them only to be given more . Are not called liars.
Beyond all this, the potential marital partner must, it now seems, give formal 'consent' to marriage - having heard this (presumably appalling) 'news'. How this is to be done remains unclear - a Statutory Declaration has been suggested (with visions of Solicitors offices and swearing oaths about 'not having a problem' with (what amounts to) their partner's dirty little secret). Whatever happens, there's much space for further humiliation, further invasion of privacy (something that the 2004 Act was supposed to eliminate), and for legal ambiguity. Look into the future not too far to see the case of an individual who seeks an annulment of a marriage because 'they weren't told'. It becomes a case of one litigant's word against the other, and a great opportunity for someone to get out of a marriage fast even if the real reasons lie elsewhere. It's also a great way of getting a trans person into the papers again, with their past shared everywhere. Or beaten up by angry relatives - and so on.
The Equal Marriage Act - with just a few weeks of lobbying time left - will right a long standing wrong against Lesbian and Gay people. Of course I still support it. But for my gay and lesbian friends now. And for my trans friend who has been caught by the requirement-to-divorce trap, despite, with her wife, keeping her family in one piece for years against the odds.
But I no longer support this bill for me. A few stoic MPs have begun to grasp the implications for transgender people of some of its provisions, and some of its pointed omissions. A few activists have tried to make the politicians hear us. But most MPs have little idea of the issues for us still. Some can barely spell transsexual. A few hate us, with some energy.
Unless something changes, soon - despite the valuable and important side effect of allowing continued marriage for some - it looks to me like the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act could be about to move my personal human rights, and those of many like me, nowhere.
Worse, it will restate, in deliberate omission and in the unique and new introduction of the legal concept of control of transgender people by consent of another, a fear at the heart of British political classes which over the last nine years we had hoped was on the wane.
Minor edits made June 23 and 24 to reflect accurate situation re legal disclosure around the 2004 Gender Recognition Act