US: NYC trans woman wins name-change legal battle

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A trans woman in New York City has won a legal battle over a case to remove problematic language from her name change order.

Back in March, a judge granted Charlie Kerr the right to change names from Charles Marshall Kerr to Charlie Marion Kerr.

Despite the request being approved, the judge inserted the statement: “This name change does not constitute proof of change in gender.”

Legal counsel for Ms Kerr filed a motion challenging the language, as it does not appear in orders given to non-trans people. They argued that Ms Kerr could have been subjected to scrutiny on presenting the order.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) staff attorney Noah Lewis said: “There was no legitimate reason to single out Ms. Kerr’s transgender status.

“Name change orders are not gender change orders. Inserting language about a gender change into Charlie’s order because she is transgender violated her privacy and had the potential to expose her to added scrutiny and the possibility of anti-transgender discrimination. We are pleased that the court has removed that language.”

The accompanying brief to the motion noted that name change and gender change orders are legally different documents.

“I am simply trying to bring my legal documents in line with my true identity,” said Ms Kerr. “I appreciate the court recognizing my name change and deleting words that stigmatized me and jeopardized my privacy and safety. Now I can move on with my life as the person that I am.”

Shearman & Sterling LLP represented Ms. Kerr through TLDEF’s Name Change Project, and was assisted by counsel from Viacom Inc. and TLDEF.