Tennessee Invalidates Transgender Woman’s Marriage to a Man
May 13, 2009 - 4:10 PMTennessee authorities have invalidated the 18-month marriage of a transgender woman and a man, saying the state considers them both men.
Jo T. Rittenberry, 46, was born a man and claims to have had sex reassignment surgery in Canada. The Clarksville Leaf Chronicle reported that she had officials legally change the gender on her Kentucky birth certificate and Tennessee driver's license.
Rittenberry married Jeffery Scott Phillips, 36, in November 2007.
Kelly Farmer, director of communications at the Davidson County Clerk's Office, said Tennessee authorities will not honor the marriage because Rittenberry was not born a woman.
Tennessee does not permit same-sex marriage and does not recognize gender change even after sex reassignment surgery.
"The marriage is real to me," said Rittenberry, also known as Terri Jo Colby. "It wasn't anything planned to be deceptive. I'm not gay, and Jeff ain't either."
The Canadian clinic where Rittenberry claims to have had gender reassignment surgery says she was a patient there but no operation was performed. Rittenberry disputes that.
Authorities began raising questions of gender after Rittenberry was booked into jail in March, charged with domestic assault against a relative and criminal impersonation stemming from allegations of credit card fraud.
Montgomery Sheriff's Department spokesman Ted Denny told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Rittenberry is being housed with men and was patted down by both male and female officers because Rittenberry has breasts and male genitalia.
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