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Wednesday, October 21, 1998 Published at 21:08 GMT 22:08 UK


UK Politics

Transexual demands 'respect'

Transexual pop star Dana International has done much to raise awareness

MPs are being urged to change the law to improve the rights of transexuals.

Elizabeth Bellinger, a transexual, lobbied Parliament to demand legislation to recognise her 18-year "marriage" to former dock worker Michael Bellinger.

She also wants her adoption of his daughter by his first wife, who is now dead, to be legally acknowledged.

Ms Bellinger, 52, had a sex change operation more than 20 years ago, and begins a legal battle next Friday to have her marriage made legal under the 1986 Family Law Act.

Britain, she says, is the only country in Europe which allows sex change operations but does not then legally recognise the person's new gender.

Pride

"I'm a transsexual and I'm very proud of that. I want the respect of being a married lady, which I am. I want that respect from government.

"I want that respect because I am a mother. I am proud to be a mother. I am really proud to be the wife of Michael Bellinger and I will never stop telling the world."

She added: "We want to be able to get on with a normal life but, continually, the government harasses us by making it very clear to us we are not a couple that, in effect, we are probably two men who live together.

"The law has to change. Mr Blair is the person who has the golden opportunity to make this change."

"I'm very sad to think that in this house, the mother of Parliaments, where we expect leadership for the family in this country, that this house is not recognising the plight of people who have normal lives, who are kind, caring people and treats them as something like - a word I don't like - a freak."

Several MPs offered their support for the campaign, including Liberal Democrat Dr Evan Harris, who called for legislation this Parliament and Labour's Kerry Pollard, who said a legal change would give people dignity.

On Tuesday the Labour MP, Dr Lynne Jones, put down a Commons early day motion congratulating the soap opera Coronation Street for its "realistic" portrayal of a transexual character in the shape of factory worker, Hayley Patterson.



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