The Twelfth District Court of Appeals has held that a juvenile court judge abused his discretion when he refused to grant a name change to a transgender teenager. The court found that the judge ignored evidence from doctors and other experts that the name change is critical to mitigate depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideations/attempts by transgender teenagers. The court also suggested that parents have a “fundamental liberty interest in the care and custody of the parent’s children” rotected by the Constitution,
Previously, Engel & Martin had filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the Warren County Juvenile Court judge violated the equal protection rights of transgender teenagers when he denied the requests for the teenagers to change their names to conform with their gender identity. The federal lawsuit had alleged that the judge has a pattern and practice treating transgender teenagers differently than others who seek a name change.
Attorney Joshua Engel says that the decision affirms an “evidence- based approach to dealing with the issues facing transgender teenagers.”
Engel, who has brought numerous civil rights cases in courts nationwide, adds:
Judges need to consider the substantial evidence presented by families and doctors that a name change is often in the best interest of the teenager instead of substituting personal, skeptical, views. A name change for teenagers is often important because of the need to have a teenager’s driver’s license, passport, college applications, and similar documents reflect a name consistent with the teenager’s gender identity.