Three transgender women, two who are incarcerated and a recent parolee from Federal confinement in Texas filed a Lawsuit Wednesday asking that they be allowed to change their names and gender markers. Texas is one of only ten states that has laws denying name changes to inmates even though they are housed, as these women are, in women’s prisons. Governor Gregg Abbott and State Attorney General Ken Paxton are named as co-defendants.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons released a protocol in 2017 that provided specific provisions for changing transgender inmates’ names. But name changes operate under state law, so Texas inmates do not fall under this provision.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment.
Donna Langan and Teresa De Barbarac are still serving time, but Alexandra Carson has been recently released. They argue that their inability to legally change their names is a cruel and unusual punishment.
Attorney Brian McGiverin, the civil rights attorney who filed the petition on behalf of three transgender women, told the San Francisco Chronicle denying transgender people the right to change their name increases their risk of depression and suicide.
“Being misnamed and misgendered is a kind of intense gas-lighting that amounts to psychological torture,” McGiverin noted.
Langan said that even though the federal prison system acknowledged she is transgender by placing her in an all-women prison and providing her with hormone replacement therapy, she is still not allowed to change her name, according to the lawsuit.
De Barbarac said she almost died because of the name discrepancy, the lawsuit alleges. Emergency medical technicians refused to touch her after looking at her identification card and realizing she was transgender.
Carson said in the suit she cannot legally change her name until 2023 because of this rule. She said having her legal name on her identification records makes it difficult to maintain housing or a job and opens her up to fraud accusations from bank tellers, police officers and landlords.
The lawsuit also challenges the law’s application to individuals in state-run facilities who want to change their name.
Texas is one of the few places that has state laws prohibiting all federal inmates from changing their names. A state by state list of the varied prohibitions can be found in PDF form as compiled by translifeline.org
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