Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Marrying the missus - again

Kelly Ellis (left) had to end her marriage to Kelly Ewing in order to change her gender, but now they are remarrying. Photo / Kenny Rodger
Kelly Ellis (left) had to end her marriage to Kelly Ewing in order to change her gender, but now they are remarrying. Photo / Kenny Rodger

Transgender advocate Kelly Ellis is marrying the woman she loves, for a second time.

The Whangarei-based criminal lawyer and aspiring Labour candidate had to end her eight-year marriage with her wife, Kelly Ewing, in order to change the gender on her birth certificate to female.

But with last year's marriage equality law change, the devoted couple - who are in a civil union - can legally tie the knot once more.

"That has now cleared the way for me to remarry the woman who is currently my ex-wife, my civil union partner and my fiancee," Ms Ellis said.

Her sons, 18 and 21, will be among guests at their March wedding.

But it has been a long and costly road to remarriage, made possible only by legislative change.

When Ms Ellis changed her recorded gender in 2011, the law would not allow the couple to stay married if both she and her wife had female birth certificates.

"In those days the sky would have fallen and the earth would have tilted off its axis and swarms of locusts would have swept the Earth, so in order to get congruent identification documents, I had to end the marriage to my wife," she said.

The couple could have opted for divorce or had the marriage declared a nullity, but to stay with the woman she loved, Ms Ellis chose a civil union.

"To be perfectly honest, I was a bit grudging about it, I was pissed off about it. I'm putting the best face on it, and I'm going to enjoy getting married again. But in a lot of ways, the civil union felt more like a funeral than a celebration."

Now, with marriage equality here, the couple are happy to be able to marry once more. They look forward to throwing a party for 70-odd guests.

Ms Ellis, a member of TransAdvocates who has been fighting for the rights of transgender prisoners, said it was important to have a passport that accurately reflected who she was when travelling overseas.

She is seeking the Labour Party's nomination to contest the Whangarei seat at this year's election.

"I'm a good scrapper and a good advocate ... But the sad thing is ... people seem to only be interested in the fact that I'm transgender and the fact that I've had a bit of difficulty to legally hang on to my wife." APNZ

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a3 at 19 Sep 2014 22:36:48 Processing Time: 330ms