A Georgia appellate court overruled a Superior Court Judge's decision to deny a transgender name change request in the case of In Re Feldhaus. This Georgia name change case was covered by the media from the time the Superior Court judge denied the request for a transgender name change until that judge's decision was overturned by the Georgia appellate court granting the right to a transgender name change.
The facts of the Feldhaus case (as stated in the appellate court's written decision) were as follows:
"Although Feldhaus' petition was unopposed, the trial court found that by “claiming to be a person of the opposite gender” from his or her birth gender, a transgender person “presents problems for the person and the general public” in that his or her assumed name could “confuse and mislead ... emergency personnel, actuaries, insurance underwriters, and other businesses and relationships where the sex of an individual is relevant.” The court added that “third parties should not have to contend with the quandary, predicament and dilemma of a person who presents as a male, but who has an obviously female name[.]” The court also distinguished between Feldhaus' proposed first name, “Rowan,” which it found to be “gender neutral,” and “Elijah,” which it found not to be gender neutral. The court then concluded that “[n]ame changes which allow a person to assume the role of a person of the opposite sex are, in effect, a type of fraud on the general public” and that such changes “offend the sensibilities and mores of a substantial portion of the citizens of this state.” It therefore denied Feldhaus' petition.
Although Baumert's petition was also unopposed, the trial court entered an order finding that a transgender person who “claim[s] to be a person of the opposite gender” from their biological gender “presents problems for the person and the general public.” The court noted that “third parties should not have to contend with the quandary, predicament, and dilemma of a person who presents as a male, but who has an obviously female name, and vice versa,” and that Baumert had rejected the court's offer of a “gender neutral” name. The court then repeated that “[n]ame changes which allow a person to assume the role of a person of the opposite sex are, in effect, a type of fraud on the general public” and that such changes “offend the sensibilities and mores of a substantial portion of the citizens of this state.” The court therefore denied Baumert's petition."
The Georgia appellate court declared that "Here, Feldhaus and Baumert followed the procedure for name change … There was no evidence before the trial court to authorize a conclusion that either of them was acting with any improper motive against any specific person… Further, no objections were raised at the hearings on the petitions… It follows that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied these petitions. The trial court's orders are therefore reversed, and the court is directed on remand to enter an order changing petitioners' names to “Rowan Elijah Feldhaus” and “Andrew Norman Baumert,” respectively."
The filing and granting of petitions for transgender name changes and gender marker changes are becoming more common in Gwinnett County and in other metro Atlanta counties.
Please refer to my previous article on the process of legally changing your name in Gwinnett County and the 7 Top Reasons to Legally Change Your Name.
If you live in Gwinnett County or in the Metro-Atlanta area and are considering a name change please contact Douglas W. Lewis by filling out and submitting the request form found on this page, or by calling our office at 770-682-3765 for a free initial phone consultation. Our office is located at 154 Stone Mountain Street, Lawrenceville, GA 30046. Client reviews can be found on Mr. Lewis' Google page, Avvo page, and on his website.