October 09, 2017
In a first such move, Nepali authorities accepted the marriage of a transgender couple by issuing them a marriage certificate officially approving their union.
Born and raised as a male child, Monika Shahi Nath married the 22-year-old Ramesh Nath Yogi in May 2017 and they got the official marriage certificate recently marking a rare acceptance in the Nepali society.
With this, Monika Shahi Nath (40) has become the country’s first transgender person to have received a marriage certificate from the district authorities, even in the absence of formal laws for such marriages.
“I never dreamed that one day I would be someone’s wife and be loved as a daughter-in-law. We are happy and feel accepted as husband and wife,” says Nath.
Yogi’s family, who were initially reluctant, later accepted the couple.
“The idea of third gender is very new to people around here, many people don’t understand what it means. But her behavior is good with everyone, so they are accepting her,” says Laxmi Nath Bista, a neighbor to Yogi at his residence.
Despite a third gender option in government application forms, the Nepali transgenders community has been facing key challenges with regard to their identity and acceptance in the Nepali society.
Nath, who grew up as Manoj in western Nepal, has been facing various challenges since her childhood. “Away from my home, I would secretly become a woman. It would make me very happy, but I was afraid to tell my family, I felt I would shame them,” says Nath.
Even though this marriage was accepted, the legal provision allowing such marriages is yet to be passed and has been pending with the government since more than two years.
“I am blessed to be someone’s wife, but the government needs to make the legal changes so people can easily marry the person they love.”
Nath was also the first Nepali transgender to receive a passport under the ‘other’ gender category in 2015.