It turned out to be another special Valentine’s Day for 23-year-old transwoman Surekha and her partner Manikandan (26). For after a long struggle, their marriage was finally registered at the Sub-Registrar office in Vadavalli in the district on Friday.
They couldn’t, however, register their marriage then as under Section 5 (iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, the term ‘bride’ meant ‘woman’ and the word ‘transgender’ did not find a mention in the Act. However, this was in contradiction to a verdict of the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court which stated that the term ‘bride’ was also applicable to transgenders.
Unable to register their marriage after being rejected at the Sub Registrar’s office in Vadavalli, the couple approached the District Registrar Office in this regard. Further, the Inspector General of Registration office in Chennai also clarified to the Sub Registrar office that the Hindu Marriage Act is applicable to transpersons as well.
Following this, the couple on Friday arrived at the Sub Registrar office to register their marriage. It all took but about 30 minutes for the completion of procedures and the marriage certificate to be issued to the couple.
“I am extremely happy that our marriage has been accepted and legally valid. I feel like starting a new life. We have decided to adopt a baby,” Surekha told media. Manikandan said that they would set an example for others, whatsoever be their sexuality. “We will now use the marriage certificate for opening joint bank accounts, availing loan and to get other documents,” he said. Manikandan works as an autorickshaw driver, while his partner works at a dairy farm in Narasimmanaickenpalayam. The couple were accompanied to the Sub Registrar office by Manikandan’s parents, Surekha’s adopted mother and friends.