Nepal approves transgender woman’s marriage

family law

Authorities in Nepal have approved the first marriage in the country’s history to involve an openly transgender woman.

Monika Shahi Nath married 22 year-old Ramesh Nath Yogi back in May but their marriage certificate has only just been approved.

The 40 year-old bride grew up in a remote village in the south-east Asian country. Having her wedding officially recognised was not something she ever expected to experience. Speaking to international press agency AFP, Monika said she “never dreamed that one day [she] would be someone’s wife [and] would be loved as a daughter-in-law”.

Growing up, Monika “wanted to sit with the girls” at school and was always “fascinated with women’s clothing”. When she was in her early twenties, she would take her sister’s clothes and spend time in a nearby city as a woman.

She said:

“It would make me very happy, but I was afraid to tell my family, I felt I would shame them.”

Monika only managed to summon the courage to tell her family after she married Ramesh.  The fact that she brought a husband home made it easier for them to accept, she said, and now they “truly see [her] as a woman”.

Neighbours in her village have also been receptive to the couple despite some initial unease. One of them explained that the notion of a transgender person was “very new to people around here, many people don’t understand what it means” but that Monika had been “good with everyone, so they are accepting of her”.

Transgender rights are slowly being recognised throughout the world. Last year, clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwa (religious declaration) recognising the right of transgender people in the country to marry. Despite this apparent step forward, prominent transgender rights activists said they found the declaration “troublesome”.

Photo of Nepal by Wonderlane via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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