Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Name Change an Important Component of Transgender Rights

The New York Times: For Transgender People, Name is a Message by, William Glaberson

In many courts around the country, what were once risky or shocking name-change requests are becoming more routine as the sting of gender taboo has lost a little of its edge. But in few places has this shift been more dramatic than in New York, where two recent and little-noticed rulings helped clarify the murky area not only of the law but also of modern gender identification. They have contributed to Manhattan’s becoming a capital of Joe-to-Jane proceedings. A rare network of some 200 lawyers now works on such cases filed in the Centre Street courthouse, and nearly 400 of their transgender clients so far have, more or less, become someone else. . . .

Efforts to extend legal rights to transgender people have increasingly been in the news, including the December announcement by Gov. David A. Paterson of New York to extend antidiscrimination protections to transgender state employees. . . .

The lawyers have represented clients from every borough in the Manhattan court, with applicants ranging from occasional cross-dressers to people who have completed gender reassignment surgery. No one knows how many others have gone to the court on their own or with other lawyers. Indeed, the very number of transgender people in the country and the state is hard to pin down. One survey suggests there are 300,000 in New York State, but others dispute that. . . .


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