Transgender People and Probate Court Name Change Petitions

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Transgender Rights

name change petitionWhen transgender clients call upon us to assist them with a name and/or gender marker change, it can often be a time of stress for them.  People whose gender identity is inconsistent with the sex ascribed to them at birth understand intimately how societal expectations can shape people’s responses to how one expresses that gender identity.

As GLAD writes:

Transgender people face serious discrimination in our society, in areas ranging from appropriate medical care to parental rights; from personal identification documents to the freedom to marry. And perhaps most common, transgender people face harassment and discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations – mistreatment that threatens their freedom to work and live safely in their own communities.

Although Connecticut is a leader among states in providing anti-discrimination protections for transgender people, the idea of interacting with a court and federal and state agency with respect to gender issues can still be quite intimidating.

In Connecticut, as in most states, a name change requires a petition in court, most typically a local probate court.  A name change through the court allows the individual to use the new name in a legal capacity, for everything from changing one’s driver’s license to signing legal and business documents.

Though Connecticut law provides that “an application for a change of name should be granted unless it appears that the use of the new name by the applicant will result in injury to some other person with respect to his legal rights, as, for instance, by facilitating unfair competition or fraud,” we are mindful that appearing before a court for such an intimate issue understandably creates anxiety for some transgender clients.