ATL transgender man fights a judge's denial to change name

ATLANTA - A civil rights organization filed a brief today with the Georgia Court of Appeals to appeal a lower court’s decision to deny a transgender man the right to change his name.

In June, Andrew Baumert filed a petition in Columbia County Superior Court to legally change his name from Delphine to Andrew. Baumert a graduate student at Georgia State University in Atlanta, is originally from Augusta.

According to court records, Baumert provided the necessary information for a name change. Baumert’s mother, father and grandmother went to the hearing with him. His mother testified to how Baumert did not “feel comfortable in his skin” prior to his transition and that he had a team of doctors who were treating him for gender dysphoria.

It took only nine minutes for Judge J. David Roper to deny the request.

RELATED | Transgender man appeals rejection of legal name change

There are only a few exceptions which allow a court to deny someone the right to change their name. Some of those include a lengthy criminal record or if the court believes the petitioner is trying to defraud creditors.

Being transgender is not one of those exemptions.

Roper believes the name, “Andrew,” is too masculine for transgender men and thinks it would be confusing or misleading to the general public. Court transcripts show the judge preferred a more gender neutral name.
“I can live with... Morgan, Shannon, Shaun and Jaimie.” Roper said.

Lambda Legal, an LGBT civil rights organization, is appealing the denial on Baumert’s behalf. Lambda Legal attorneys Beth Littrell and Dru Levasseur are representing Andrew along with co-counsel Merritt McAlister and Sedric Bailey of King & Spalding, LLP.

“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 Baumert in press release released by Lambda Legal. “I work in labs all day, but it doesn’t take a scientist to know that this judge’s ruling was based on sexist opinions about ‘appropriate’ names.”

Baumert hopes to one day receive his M.D. and conducting cancer research. He has two bachelor’s degrees from Augusta University and Georgia Military College.

This isn’t the first time Roper has denied a transgender man’s request to change his name. In March, the judge denied Rowan Feldhaus’ request to change his name from “Rebecca” to “Rowan.”

In court, Feldhaus testified that he was not delinquent on bills or trying to evade creditors by changing his name. 

Roper denied Feldhaus’ petition based on what he describes as “this court’s policy” of denying names that are not indicative of gender in a way he believes the public would approve. He also cited his concern that “Rowan” might offend the “sensibilities and mores of a substantial portion of the citizens of this state.”

Lambda Legal is also appealing Feldhaus’ denial.

“It’s hurtful to think about how many people were targets of the judge’s policy, like Rowan and me, simply because we are transgender. I just want my name to reflect who I am,” Baumert said in the press release.

(© 2016 WXIA)


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