Judge J. David Roper of the Augusta Judicial Circuit of Georgia has refused to allow a transgender man to change his name unless he chooses a gender neutral or unisex name.
Earlier this year Andrew Baumert filed a petition to have his name legally changed from his birth name to Andrew. Court records show that Andrew provided all of the relevant and correct documents necessary for the change, yet Judge J. David Roper denied the request less than 10 minutes into the hearing.
Roper stated his reason for denying the change as being that Andrew is too masculine a name, and that it may confusing or misleading to other people. Whilst there are exceptions in which a court can deny a name change, such as a lengthy criminal record or if they believe that someone is trying to defraud creditors, but there is no legal standing to deny a petition based on the ground of gender dysphoria.
Court records have shown that Roper told Andrew that he would be fine allowing the name change if a gender neutral name was chosen. He said, ‘I can live with Morgan, Shannon, Shaun and Jamie’.
Andrew has since approached civil rights organisations for assistance with this case and has gone on to describe the incident as ‘humiliating’ to the press.
‘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. I work in labs all day, but it doesn’t take a scientist to know that the judge’s ruling was based on sexist opinions about ‘appropriate’ names.’
This is not the first time that Roper has denied a trans man’s petition to change his name legally, however, as in the past he has refused to allow a trans man to change his name to Rowan. At the time Roper denied this change, which also met all of the legal requirements, on the grounds that he believed it could ‘offend the sensibilities and mores of a substantial portion of the citizens of this state.’