Target: Judge Brenda S. Weaver, Chairman of Georgia’s Judicial Qualification Commission
Goal: Discipline Judge David Roper for personal bias in rejecting a transgender man’s request for a name change.
A Georgia judge denied a transgender man’s application for a name change after confusing personal bias for justice. He told the applicant and the court that he “do[es] not approve of changing names from male to female … and vice versa,” according to Lambda Legal. Judge David Roper arrived at that conclusion despite the supporting documentation the applicant provided, which exceeded the requirements of state law. Lambda Legal’s Dru Levasseur observed that, “The court misunderstands the limit of a court’s discretion in these matters.”
By seemingly allowing his personal bias to intrude on his ruling, the judge significantly hampered the applicant’s ability to continue in his transition. In the applicant’s own words, “It can be a scary situation when I show up for work or the first day of class and my legal name does not match my public presentation and my gender identity. I just want to change my name so that it reflects who I am.”
By refusing to allow transgender people to legally adopt the names they already live by, Judge Roper refuses them escape from needless fear and conflict. Judge Roper should not have that authority. Lambda Legal’s appeal rests on just that principle; it alleges that the court “abused its discretion when it denied [the applicant’s] name change even though he met all the necessary criteria because the decision was arbitrary and based on insufficient reasons.”
Sign on to ask Georgia’s Judicial Qualification Commission to review Judge Roper’s decision and discipline him for abusing his position. Tell them that Judge Roper should not have the authority to impose his personal beliefs on others.
Dear Chairman Weaver,
Judge David Roper recently rejected a transgender man’s application for name change because of his personal opposition to allowing people to change gendered names. Despite the applicant providing all the documentation required by state law to obtain a name change and explained the particular importance of name changes for transgender people, Judge Roper refused to approve the request. The only justification the judge provided for that decision was an appeal to vague fears for public safety or risk to potential creditors.
For the judge, his personal biases carried more weight than either the importance of name changes to the process of social transition or the serious consequences of denying the application. In addition to fulfilling all the statutory requirements for a name change, the applicant reportedly provided Judge Roper a statement from his therapist speaking to the name change as a critical part of his treatment for gender dysphoria. After the judge’s rejection, the applicant told the public what that decision meant for him: “I felt insulted and objectified to be told by the court that I would not be able to have the name that my family, my friends, and my co-workers all call me, based on sexist opinions about ‘appropriate’ names.”
We concur with the applicant and with Lambda Legal. The decision to refuse his name change suggests sexist personal bias and is profoundly insulting. We believe that Judge Roper “abused [his] discretion when [he] denied [the applicant’s] name change even though he met all the necessary criteria.” We urge you take take disciplinary action to correct that abuse.
[Your Name Here]
Image credit: Fry 1989