Indiana Court of Appeals eases process

A judge in Tippecanoe County, Indiana had decided that a person seeking a name or gender change had to publish the change in a newspaper in their home county at least three times.

On Thursday the Indiana Court of Appeals overruled that decision.

Appellate court Judge John Baker wrote that county judges can’t add conditions to requests for gender changes to birth certificates if a good faith test is satisfied.

Under state law, people seeking a name change are required to publish notice of the intent; however, there is no Indiana statute requiring an individual seeking a gender marker change to publish notice.

In court, the person presented evidence that transgender individuals are disproportionately subject to violence and homicide, presenting a survey of transgender people in Indiana showing that 74 percent of the respondents experienced harassment or mistreatment on the job and 27 percent reported physical assault.

The appellate court found that the person presented evidence of potential violence and agreed that publication of the person’s birth name and new name could create the risk of harm. The court agreed that the court record concerning the petition for name change should be sealed. The court also said that the person did not need to publish the request for a gender marker change.

The statutory requirement for publication in name-change cases does not apply to gender marker changes,. It was erroneous to create a requirement where none exists.

--Judge Baker

Publication of his birth name and new name would enable members of the general public to seek him out, placing him at a significant risk of harm.

The nature of the internet, where the publication would likely remain widely available, means that notice would leave him at risk for the rest of his life.

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