Love and marriage 

By Barbara Black

Christofer and Marion Russell have lived an unusual and inspiring love story that took them from the United States to Germany and eventually brought them to Concordia’s Department of English, from which they will graduate together this spring.

Christofer gives Marion a piggyback on a recent vacation. Magnifying glass

Christofer gives Marion a piggyback on a recent vacation.

Chris started university in the U.S. as a woman, and met Marion in Connecticut, where she was working as an au pair, a mother’s helper. As two women, they moved to Marion’s native Germany, where they were able to marry. Then Chris decided to transition with surgery and hormone treatments to a man. He says now that it was Marion who encouraged him to do it.

“She always interacted with me as a man,” he recalled. “I was very repressed — it just wasn’t something people of my generation talked about.” He is 36. Ironically, they had to have their marriage annulled and remarry as man and woman. Chris’s parents in Maine, who are retired ministers, were quite supportive.

Chris attended university in Germany, but his grasp of the language just wasn’t sufficient to complete his degree. They tried to get back into the U.S., but the immigration authorities chose not to recognize their marriage. They embarked on a protracted legal struggle and eventually succeeded, but in the meantime, they had established themselves in Montreal at Concordia.

Marion is completing an honours degree in English. She had a GPA last year of 3.97 and is on the Dean's List. Chris is doing a joint honours degree in English and Creative Writing, and is writing a book about their painful, frustrating, but ultimately joyous adventure. They’re going back to Maine to attend graduate school.


Concordia University