Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
M Kelley and her wife Bec married legally on July 23, 2010 in a large Grand Rapids church with about 120 friends and family there in support. The marriage is legal despite M’s feminine appearance, because the gender box on her driver’s license still has the letter “M.”
With the wedding party stepping up the aisle in matching red Converse shoes, David Bowie’s “Changes” playing for their video slide show, and M dressed to the nines in a cute white pinstripe suit, the wedding was a mix of tradition and personality that only this particular couple could pull off.
They met, of all places, in a small Christian college. For a while they were just acquaintances, but in 2008 when a mutual friend was getting married, Bec needed a ride to the ceremony. On the two-hour drive they got to know each other some, and shortly after that they started to date.
“On the way back from the wedding Bec actually mentioned that she was going with some friends to a drag show,” M recalls. “At that time I had just started coming out, and was tempted to come out to her on the spot, but instead I simply noted this as a sign she may react well. She was also a social work major, and came across as very liberal and accepting.
M was still living as male when they met. “I hinted it to her about a month into our relationship.”
Bec remembered the night the man she’d been dating told her that she felt like a transgender woman. “M first told me that she was trans about a month and a half after we started dating. I came over to her apartment, we were drinking a glass of wine and playing board games and she said, ‘I have something to tell you… I am transgender.’
“We spent the next several hours talking about it and what transgender is and how it would affect our relationship. After about two months I started to research transgender issues more and began to understand the gravity of it all. After that we had to really work through it.”
Bec had always identified as a straight gal, but even growing up she had convictions about human rights. “I am a firm believer in marriage equality,” she says. “In fact, I wrote a paper supporting it way back in my years at a conservative high school.”
Some of her family did not approve of her essay at the time, and even now find her relationship with M hard to accept.
“It was a very hard situation; it put everybody in an awkward spot – M, me, everybody. My family didn’t really object, they just don’t agree. I told my sister about it while M and I were still navigating through how it was going to work. She didn’t say anything to me except, ‘Well, that must be weird.’ She did later have a long discussion with M about it. Since then, they’ve been clear that they don’t agree with our ‘lifestyle’ but they’ve never been pushy about it.”
Despite some family hesitancy, the big day went beautifully. There were candles along the pews and candles in wine bottles for the centerpieces at the reception, simple touches that Bec enjoyed planning. They also had guests leave them messages sealed in envelopes, to be opened on the anniversary corresponding with the table numbers.
“There are so many memorable moments, but the whole day was a bit of a blur looking back,” M says. “Glad I plan on only being married once, because I would not want to go through that craziness more than once.”
As M and Bec move forward in life together, those around them are recognizing their love.
“Bec has really helped me to come to better understand myself. She has been my biggest supporter and encourager. I would never have started coming out without her. She has enabled me to embrace my identity as a female in such a wonderful way. She truly amazes me.”
Bec, too, continues to be enchanted. “I am attracted to M’s confidence in herself. She is a very confident person and that was definitely the first thing that caught my eye,” she says. “I obviously think that she’s cute. When I met her, and we were first starting to date, I had just never met anyone like her before and she fascinated me, and still does. I had never met anyone who hadn’t let society define her, and I just felt like I wanted to get to know this person.”
Faith and activism is still a part of the Kelleys’ lives. M is the founder of the Transgender Education Collaboration, which recently put on a major Transgender Visibility Campaign in West Michigan. (www.trans-edu.com). She is also the vice president of the board of GIFT (Gays In Faith Together), which just kicked off the Gay Christian? Yes! Campaign.
In addition to hoping for increased acceptance for transgender people and LGBTs in the church, marriage is an important topic to them.
“Our best friend who performed the wedding is engaged but unable to get legally married. It breaks my heart seeing such a wonderful couple not able to have their relationship legally recognized,” M says. “Between my own experiences and those of my LGBT friends, I feel so strongly pushed toward activism to help make life easier for everyone.”