"I never dreamed that one day I would be someone's wife."
A transgender woman has become the first to marry in Nepal, receiving a marriage certificate. Despite the country having no laws on transgender unions.
40-year-old Monika Shahi Nath married her 22-year-old husband, Ramesh Nath Yogi. The ceremony took place back in May 2017.
But now, she has received a marriage certificate for the union. Making her the first transgender woman to marry in the country.
Speaking to AFP, Monika revealed how she feared Ramesh’s family would disapprove of her. Instead, they accepted her into the family; a rare occurrence in Nepal. She explained:
“We are happy and feel accepted as husband and wife. I never dreamed that one day I would be someone’s wife, that I would be loved as a daughter-in-law.”
The 40-year-old, born and raised as a boy, originally lived in a western Nepali village. Throughout her childhood, Monika had felt different, saying:
“At school, I wanted to sit with the girls and was fascinated with women’s clothing.”
It was only until her early 20s that she began to experiment with her clothing. Often stealing her sister’s clothes, she kept her gender identity hidden from her family. Fearing their reactions and possible disapproval.
She soon found their acceptance when she arrived with her 22-year-old husband. Monika adds: “But my marriage has made it easier. They truly see me as a woman now.”
Nepal has witnessed progressive attitudes towards transgender people. Once struggling with prejudice, they have gradually become recognised in the country.
In 2015, Monika Shahi Nath actually received the first third gender passport issued by Nepal. In the document, it shows an ‘O’ to represent ‘other’ gender. Instead of male or female.
However, the country still faces a long journey, highlighted by the couple’s marriage. For example, same-sex marriage has not become legalised in Nepal. Despite a bill proposed back in 2015.
The 40-year-old echoed these thoughts, saying:
“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.”
But, according to legal experts, the couple may face trouble with their marriage.
Reports claim that Ramesh is already married with two children, which means the couple could receive polygamy allegations. A crime considered illegal in Nepal.
However, for now, Monika and Ramesh still appear blissfully happy with their historical marriage.