NY Court Strikes Down Transgender Name-Change Restrictions
A New York court has made it much easier for some transgender people to legally change their names. A state appeals court on Wednesday struck down a lower court’s requirement that a transgender applicant for a name-change – submit medical evidence of his need to change his name.
The case was brought by 26-year-old Olin Winn-Ritzenberg, who had applied to legally change his name to Olin, from his birth name of Leah. But Michael Silverman from the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund says some judges had subjected Winn-Ritzenberg and other transgender people to different legal standards than everybody else.
Silverman: “There’s really just three things the court is supposed to look at, and that’s is there anything criminal going on, is there anything involving financial fraud going on, and is there anything in your personal life that is somehow implicated by your change of name. But a lot of transgender people were being required to provide medical evidence of their “need” to change their name.”
Silverman says the different requirements were a matter of “pure discrimination” on the part of certain judges.
On Wednesday, a New York State appeals court ruled that lower courts could not apply a different set of standards for transgender people seeking to change their names.
Silverman: “That’s a really powerful message for the judges to be sending. This was a unanimous decision by the three-judge panel, no dissent, and that’s really a terrific message.”
Silverman says the decision is final, and cannot be appealed.