Tag Archives: justice system

The Name Game, or, Why Judges Matter

blind justiceUPDATE: There is now a petition to remove this jurist from office.

A regional newspaper from Oklahoma reported this weekend that District Court Judge Bill Graves repeatedly denies legal name change requests from transgender people when their cases are assigned to him. But let me take a step back and provide a little context for why I’d pluck this one sad story out of the bin, and why this matters to transpeople and all of us.

Several hurdles stand in the way of any individual’s transition; in addition to the social shifts involved in telling one’s friends, coworkers and family about their gender identity, and on top of navigating the health care and mental health industries to make one’s chosen medical changes, there is also the myriad of legal rules and guidelines to manage. Making the legal changes even more complex for transfolk, most of the laws that transect gender identity weren’t designed for this purpose, leaving us to cobble together a paperwork patchwork to get what we need in the way of identity documents and necessary legal guidance (like wills or power of attorney). And just to throw another monkey wrench into the mix, consider that the requirements for obtaining new identity papers or altering old ones are different not only from state to state, but sometimes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, some states will grant a new birth certificate with no notation on the form that there has been any change from the original name or sex marker, other states will show that the certificate has been amended, and some states, like Ohio, forbid any changes to their issued birth certificates, no matter the reason.  Read More…

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