The Court of Appeals of Georgia on Friday overturned [opinion, PDF] the Columbia County trial court’s denial of name change petitions of two transgender individuals. Rowan Elijah Feldhaus, born Rebecca Elizabeth Feldhaus, filed a petition for a name change in July 2015, and Andrew Norman Baumert, born Delphine Renee Baumert, filed a petition for a name change in January 2016. Both petitions specified that the requested names were the names that they were known by to their family and peers. Both petitions were also filed unopposed. “The Columbia County trial court denied both petitions on grounds including that both name changes would ‘confuse and mislead’ the public and amounted to ‘a type of fraud.'” There was no evidence provided that shows that there was any fraudulent purpose to the petitions for the name changes. The opinion noted that the Supreme Court of Georgia has previously ruled that:
In the absence of a statute or judicial adjudication to the contrary, there is nothing in the law prohibiting a person from taking or assuming another name, so long as he does not assume a name for the purpose of defrauding other persons through a mistake of identity.
The decision of the trial court was reversed and the trial court was directed to enter the orders changing the petitioners’ names.
The transgender community has face significant legal challenges in recent years. The ban on transgender persons from serving in the military was just lifted [JURIST report] in July. In June a judge ordered [JURIST report] a Virginia school board to allow transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Also in June a judge from Multnomah County Circuit Court in Oregon ruled [JURIST report] that an individual’s gender could be legally changed from female to non-binary.” In the same month, a US magistrate judge issued [JURIST report] an order requiring California prions to provide transgender inmates who identify as female access to female-oriented items to which inmates have access in women’s correctional facilities.