Policy/Biz

Double Mastectomy And Birth Control Edits Let California Woman Marry Her Girlfriend

jacki and christine
Jacki and Christine were able to wed only after Jacki surgically removed both breasts. Photo courtesy of YouTube screenshot

For gay couples in states where same-sex marriage is illegal, getting married is more complicated than simply saying "I do." One California lesbian wasn’t willing to let anything prevent her from marrying her girlfriend. Jacki took advantage of what she called a “loophole” in the state law and underwent a double mastectomy in order to change her gender and lawfully wed her girlfriend.

Jacki and her now-wife Christine made semi-stardom after appearing on a segment of the Oprah Winfrey show called Where Are They Now? The two lovers had been dating for several years and were engaged during the time same-sex marriage was still not legal in the state of California, The Huffington Post reported. Christine felt that even though the LBGT community was “fighting a good fight,” she still “wasn’t feeling very optimistic” about gay and lesbian couples getting the vote to marry.

Girlfriend Jacki, eager to marry her fiancée and share the same legal right heterosexual couples enjoy, decided to think outside the box. "I started looking into transgender. In the eyes of the courts, if I were to have my gender changed to male, just like that, she gets my Social Security, she gets my pension," Jacki said. According to her bride, it was the biggest act of love that anyone’s ever done for her.

How Does A Mastectomy Change Your Gender?

Many states require specific genital reassignment surgery, such as vaginoplasty or phalloplasty, in order to legally change your gender. In the state of California, gender reassignment is defined as when a person has “undergone appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition.” What exactly is deemed appropriate is left to the doctor’s discretion. On the program, Jacki did not clarify if she identified as transgender or if the surgery was only done in order to gain the right to wed her bride. However, Gawker did note that Jacki continues to go by her female name, and her wife Christine still refers to her as “she.” Many in the bisexual transgender community aren’t as happy with what they view as abuse of the rights that transgender individuals fought very hard to obtain and say it has trivialized the transgender community. However, according to Christine, “sexuality is a long and complex topic,” so perhaps Jacki’s gender identification is as complicated as the measures she took in order to marry her girlfriend.

Double Mastectomy

Theoretically speaking, undergoing a double mastectomy does not in any way physically change a person’s gender. A double mastectomy is the surgical removal of both breasts. It is used as a treatment option for many types of breast cancer and may also be done to prevent breast cancer in patients with a very high risk of developing the disease. In the United States, about 50,000 undergo a mastectomy each year. Some of the most well-known celebrities to have undergone the procedure are Angelina Jolie, Christina Applegate, and Sharon Osbourne. All of these individuals are still, of course, undeniably female. 

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