Allow Transgender Man to Legally Change His Name

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Target: Presiding Judge Timothy Sanner and Judge Susan R. Hopkins, Clerk of Louisa Circuit Court

Goal: Allow a transgender man to legally change his name without unnecessary medical documentation

A Circuit judge recently denied the legal name change application for Jacob Haley, a transgender man living in Louisa County, Virginia, because he was unable to fulfill the judge’s request for a doctor’s note or medical record that would prove his need for the name change. There is no reason why Haley should be forced to present medical documentation for his name change: according to Virginia law, legally changing one’s name is a fairly straightforward, simple procedure that only requires the applicant’s former name, new name, and current address. According to the Viriginia judge, Hon. Timothy Sanner, however, some form of medical paperwork is an additional requirement for a name change, at least when the applicant is transgender. The judge reportedly told Haley, “The prior case had been seen by a therapist for years, had been through hormone therapy, and had a letter and things to back their story up.”

The judge’s arbitrary request is yet another roadblock faced by transgender individuals living in the U.S. who only wish to live their lives according to their gender identity. Many insurance providers and employers’ health care plans specifically exclude coverage for transgender services, including mental health services, hormone treatment, and gender reassignment procedures. Most hormone treatment services require documentation from a mental health professional before the client can receive hormone therapy, an often expensive, long-term procedure that is out of reach for many transgender individuals who cannot afford mental health care out of their own pocket. For Haley, his employer’s health care plan does not cover any of these services, and he has been trying to raise the money independently since 2011. The judge granted Haley 60 days to produce a medical letter, but this may be quite difficult without the funds to acquire it.

Haley’s case is clearly one of discrimination against his transgender status. Other Virginia residents have easily completed the routine name change procedure, often through mail forms without any court appearances. Sign the petition below to tell Judge Sanner and the Louisa County Courthouse that Haley should be allowed to change his name without the unreasonable demand to “back his story up.”

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Judge Sanner and Judge Hopkins,

Louisa County resident Jacob Haley was recently denied his request for a legal name change because he was unable to fulfill Judge Sanner’s unfounded request for medical documentation that would prove his need for a name change. Mr. Haley is a transgender man who wishes to legally change his female birth name to his male name in order to match his gender identity. There is absolutely no reason why Haley should be forced to present medical documentation for his name change. Perhaps you need to be reminded of the requirements for a legal name change under Virginia law: “The order shall contain no identifying information other than the applicant’s former name or names, new name, and current address.”

Judge Sanner’s arbitrary request is yet another roadblock faced by transgender individuals living in the U.S. who only wish to live their lives according to their gender identity. Many insurance providers’ and employers’ health care plans specifically exclude coverage for transgender services, including mental health services, hormone treatment, and gender reassignment procedures. These are costly services that are out of reach for many transgender individuals who cannot afford mental health care out of their own pocket. For Haley, his employer’s health care plan does not cover any of these services.

Haley’s case is clearly one of discrimination against his transgender status. Other Virginia residents have easily completed the routine name change procedure, often through mail forms without any court appearances. Jacob Haley should not be forced to “back his story up” by medical documentation or any other means. We demand that Jacob Haley and all other applicants be allowed to legal name changes without any additional unnecessary documentation.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: InverseHypercube via Wikimedia Commons

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One Comment

  1. Sounds like a lawsuit to me.

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88 Signatures

  • James Thrailkill
  • Eric von Borstel
  • Hermann Kastner
  • sheila childs
  • Mal Gaff
  • Terrie Phenicie
  • jeff hopkins
  • Nancy Petersen
  • Frédérique Pommarat
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