Israel recently celebrated its first public trans-inclusive wedding, going so far as to televise the event. Is this a step forward for trans inclusion or a hindrance?
Salon owner Che Arizona and her husband, whose identity has not been revealed, married last week with a wedding party of celebrities and media people, including a Channel 2 television crew, in tow.
Israeli personality Avri Gilad officiated the event. Gilad is quoted as calling Arizona’s wedding a breakthrough. “Each woman deserves to smile at her wedding, and deserves to wear white,” he said, “or pink.”
Yet Arizona is from an Orthodox background, and her father refused to attend the service, although her mother and sisters were all present.
Arizona is reported as saying the couple are a “million percent” going to have children.
Israel’s legal acceptance of gay people has been well reported on, and indeed its LGBT rights laws on paper make it one of the most progressive countries in the world. However accusations are frequently made that Israel uses its LGBT rights stance as “pinkwashing” to mask human rights abuses.
While that doesn’t strictly apply here, there certainly have been those who have criticized the way the Israeli media has made a show out of the event.
Attorney Irit Rosenblum, founder and CEO of the New Family advocacy group, told Gay Star News that while he congratulated the couple on their marriage he noted that there have been a number of transgender-inclusive weddings in Israel in the past, but none of them have been given such media attention: “However the manner in which it was handled in the Israeli media was a bit circus-like and irresponsible. In reality it is a powerful and difficult process from a personal struggle to a realization of identity and self-acceptance.”
Focusing solely on the trans rights issue, Israel does through its laws allow broad protections for transgender people and, as Arizona’s wedding shows, recognizes gender transition and caters for it among its marriage provisions.
However, trans people still face hurdles in the process of gender transition and, in particular, are not able to register their gender transition until after gender change surgery. More than just being a high financial barrier, this puts trans people at risk of broad discrimination for the sake of gender change surgery that they may not even medically require.
There is also the problem that because Israel does not recognize same-sex marriage, a trans person in a previously opposite-sex marriage cannot stay married to their partner after their transition.
There is a danger that the publicity around Arizona’s wedding may gloss over these issues, however the fact that the Israeli media has so broadly publicized this event, and in such a positive way, at the very least sends a very public, positive message.
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