For the second time this year, a Ga. judge has denied a name change for a transgender person.
Superior Court Judge J. David Roper — for the second time — told a transgender man that he has to use a name that is, “gender–neutral” and something “I can live with.” As in, something Judge Roper can live with. Because the most important thing about a legal name change is that the judge feels comfortable with the name, even though he will never, ever have to deal with the consequences of living with it.
“If you want to rethink the name situation and come back to me with a name that I can live with, that is gender-neutral,” the judge said, going on to suggest names he considered appropriate.
“It was humiliating and insulting to be told by the court that I would not be able to change my name legally when I’m already known as Andrew by my family, my friends, and my community,” said Andrew Baumert, the person seeking the name change.
Earlier this year, Judge Roper told Rowan Elijah Feldhaus to pick a more “gender–neutral” middle name, making sure to clarify his position with a transphobic rant.
The judge concluded that granting Feldhaus’ name change would “offend the sensibilities and mores of a substantial portion of the citizens of this state.”
Now, Andrew Baumert had to appear before the same judge and face the same transphobic remarks.
Attorneys with Lambda Legal are involved in both cases and appealing the judge’s decision, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion.
“[T]he court’s denial was unlawful discrimination based on sex and a violation of Andrew’s First Amendment right to freedom of expression,” the press release said.
“It is Mr. Baumert who must live with his name, not the court,” Lambda Legal attorney Beth Littrell wrote in her brief.
Transphobes win again. Because in Georgia — and around the world — it’s still a-okay to be transphobic and use your power as a judge to humiliate someone and to deny the legitimacy of his identity.