Court of Appeals of Georgia reverses Columbia County decisions on transgender name changes
The decision came as a complete shock for attorney Beth Littrell and plaintiffs Rowan Feldhaus and Andrew Baumert, who were supposed to present oral arguments to an appellate panel on Feb. 9.
“The court decided it didn’t even need to hear from us,” Littrell said. “The arguments we already presented on paper persuaded it to direct the lower court to grant the name changes.”
Judge David J. Roper denied the men’s requests for name changes in separate 2015 and 2016 decisions, citing the name changes would “confuse and mislead” the public, and demanded the names be gender-neutral enough before granting approval, according to the appellate decision. The Court of Appeals reversed Roper’s decision and directed the lower court to “remand to enter an order” changing their names as requested.
“I was completely off-guard and surprised and I was like, is this a joke? This is too surreal,” Feldhaus, a resident of Grovetown, Georgia, said. “I’m more than happy with what I heard today. I just felt a since of ease come over me and it’s just done. There’s a precedence for this.”
“This request is not unusual and is in line with standard-of-care for treating gender dysphoria, and in line with First Amendment rights,” Littrell said. “The only remarkable think about these cases was the judge denied the request. The judge did so in both cases based on the court’s own ‘policy’ of refusing to approve [of transgender name changes] unless he approved of the name requested.”
The names requested were “too male” for Roper, who decided both of the cases months apart.
“The decisions were almost verbatim the same,” Littrell said.“Name changes are one of the ways in which transgender people live their truth and live authentically. To have the government step in and deny transgender persons the right to live their truth is outrageous, unconstitutional and we wanted to ensure it didn’t happen to another transgender Georgian.”
Source: Georgia Voice