The American Civil Liberties Union last week sought to overturn an Oklahoma County judge’s decision to prohibit a transgender woman from changing her legally recognized name.
James Dean Ingram, who lives as a woman, requested to change her name to Angela Renee Ingram. But District Judge Bill Graves denied the name-change, claiming it was “fraudulent.” In a similar case last year, Graves cited the Biblical book of Genesis and expert testimony to conclude that “the DNA code shows God meant for them to stay male and female.”
The ACLU has appealed Ingram’s case to the Oklahoma Supreme Court in hopes of reversing the decision.
“Choice of a name, whether it be the choice of an individual seeking to change his or her own, or parents’ choice of what to name their newborn baby, is a right protected by the First Amendment,” said Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. “We the people, and not some government official, get to choose our names and those of our children.”
Requests for a name-change are usually approved for transgender individuals in Oklahoma, according to the ACLU.
Under Oklahoma law, a judge can only deny a name-change request if it is part of fraudulent or illegal activity. Graves has argued that allowing a transgender woman to change her name could hinder criminal investigations by confusing law enforcement and allow people to circumvent the state’s ban on same sex marriages.
“I wanted to give up and just die,” James Dean Ingram told The Oklahoman. “Soon as I was out of the courtroom I collapsed and started to cry … never before have I wanted more to kill myself.”
[A judge’s gavel via Shutterstock]