Name Change Decision Could Pose Hurdle for Transgender New Yorkers

Added requirements for name change orders in NY worries advocates

While expressing partial support for a recent court decision on name changes in New York, advocates voiced concern that an added requirement for name change orders could invade privacy and invite discrimination.

When a lower court in Broome County rejected a petition from Earl William Golden III to change her name to Elisabeth Whitney Golden, it reasoned that the name change would be confusing. An Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court ruled on Nov 26 that confusion is no basis on which to reject an application. The appellate justices sent the case back to the lower court with an order to allow the name change to proceed, but they added a new requirement that it state it is not evidence of a sex change.

“There is simply no reason for transgender New Yorkers to receive name change orders that look different from everyone else’s,” said Micahel Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, in a statement released on Dec 2.

“Such a two-class system subjects transgender people to heightened scrutiny and an unnecessary invasion of their privacy, and has the potential to cause confusion and discrimination.”

What Do You Think?