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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Second 'wedding' after sex change

BBC NEWS

A husband and wife have "remarried" under new civil partnership laws - 14 years after the groom stopped living as a man to become a woman.

Bernard and Joyce Rogers married 38 years ago but have lived "like sisters" since 1991, when Bernadette - as she is now known - underwent gender surgery.

Bernadette, who was born and brought up in south London, said she had always known she was really a woman.

The couple live Woodford Halse, near Daventry, Northamptonshire.

Now retired, Bernadette was once the director of research for the Rank Organisation and helped develop colour television and teletext services.

Officially recognised

She also acted as chief scientific adviser to Margaret Thatcher's government on broadcast technology.

She married Joyce, the widow of her best friend, almost 38 years ago and became a stepfather to her two children.

The 76-year-old finally got her two wishes on Monday this week; to be officially recognised as a woman and to be legally married to Joyce.

The couple were granted an early release from divorce proceedings by a judge at Northampton County Court on Monday - allowing Bernadette a new birth certificate showing her as a woman - and then took part in the civil union ceremony.

On Wednesday she said: "I have been waiting 71 years for this.

Gender status

"I stood in front of the mirror in my bedroom this morning and thought 'Yes, you have done it now'."

The Gender Recognition Bill, which became law last year, brought formal rights to a person with a diagnosed gender identity condition once they had been medically treated.

The Bill gave legal acknowledgement of the change in their gender status.

But it refused such acknowledgements if the transsexual remained married, meaning that Bernadette and Joyce had to divorce in order for the law to recognise Bernadette's status as a woman.

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