The State Supreme Court of New York has dropped the requirement that transgender individuals provide documentation from their doctor before changing their name.
The fund had brought the case on behalf of a transgender man, Olin Yuri Winn-Ritzenberg, who had petitioned the New York City Civil Court seeking to legally change his name from Leah Uri Winn-Ritzenberg. In February, a Civil Court judge in Manhattan, Manuel J. Mendez, denied the petition, ruling that Mr. Winn-Ritzenberg first had to provide a letter from a physician, psychologist or social worker documenting the “need” for the name change. Michael D. Silverman, the executive director of the transgender advocacy group, argued that the state’s common law generally allows an adult “to change his or her name at will, for any reason,” and that transgender petitioners like Mr. Winn-Ritzenberg were being held to a higher standard. About 10 other people, all in Manhattan, have approached the fund with similar reports of having their name-changing petitions denied for the same reason Judge Mendez gave.
Advocates for the rule change point out that for many gender is a social construct and that some transgender people do not desire hormone therapy or sexual reassignment surgery.