Letter: We are not all equal

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The Independent Online
We are not all equal

Sir: Dana International, the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, and your leading article (11 May) say "we are all equal". UK transsexuals know that we are not.

Amongst all the countries in the Council of Europe, only four do not recognize a transsexual person's new status. In Albania and Andorra gender reassignment is itself illegal; in the UK and Ireland it is permitted but is not recognised in law. I may live as a woman all my adult life, but I will still be recorded on my father's grave as "son" and on my own death certificate as a "male".

I am denied the right to family life: I may not marry a man, and although I may marry another woman, such a marriage cannot be consummated, and so can be instantly annulled. Neither can I adopt.

All this despite the fact that for nearly 30 years the medical profession has recognized that gender reassignment is the only effective remedy for what is now understood as a developmental abnormality.

The Government is fighting in the European Court of Human Rights to prevent UK transsexuals acquiring rights comparable to those available to other citizens of Europe (UK vs Sheffield and Horsham). It is gratifying that the people of Europe can "phone in their message of tolerance" to Eurovision. More is the pity that the Government cannot respond to it.

RACHAEL PADMAN

Cambridge

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