Posts tagged Transgender

Probate Judges must give reasons for denying name changes

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The Law Court recently returned a decision on the appeal of a name change of a transgender identified individual. The Law Court, in their decision, noted that there was nothing in the record that evidenced fraud on the part of the petitioner and remanded the case back to the Probate Court for further action. The Law Court directed the Probate Court that if the request for name change was denied, again, that the decision be in writing and with details as to the reason for the denial. No action has happened since the decision was published, but it is anticipated that an additional hearing will take place in the near future.

The reason this is interesting for transgender individuals is because some Probate Courts have requested additional information from transgender identified petitioners that are not related to the statute or case law for name changes in the State of Maine. The decision from the Law Court did not address the additional level of scrutiny that has been applied by some Probate Judges to perceived transgender petitioners, but it is anticipated that if the Probate Court denies the name change on the basis of the petitioner’s transgender status, that this will become an issue before the Law Court in the near future.

New Policy regarding Gender Change for Passports

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The State Department announced yesterday that it would be changing a long-standing policy that controlled how transgender or transsexual individuals changed the gender marker on their passports. The old policy required that such individuals have surgery before they could change the gender marker.

According to the press release on the policy, surgery will no longer be required. The new policy requires that an attending medical physician certify that the applicant has “undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.” However, regulations regarding exactly what appropriate clinical treatment may be required under the new policy have not yet been disseminated.

The policy does not allow passport officials to ask for additional medical information other than the certification.

Updated: 2:30 P.M. The guidelines are available here.

The medical certification permits a psychiatrist, internist, endocrinologist, gynecologist, or urologist to give certification. The certification must include the physician’s full name, their medical license or certificate number, the issuing state or other jurisdiction of their medical license, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registration number assigned to the physician, the address and telephone number of the physician, and must contain the following language:

(1) Language stating that he/she is the attending physician for the applicant and that he/she has a doctor/patient relationship with the applicant;

(2) Language stating the applicant has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition to the new gender (male or female);

(3) Language stating “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the forgoing is true and correct”: and

(4) Annotate the application “gender transition” to record the reason for issuing the full validity passport in the new gender.

Why it matters to hire an attorney with knowledge of LGBT law

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If you are someone who is a member of the LGBTQI community who needs to consult with a lawyer, you should consider looking for someone who has a practice that handles a lot of LGBTQI issues or who has a lot of LGBTQI clients.  Many legal issues that LGBTQI individuals face are matters that generally only affect individuals who do not have legally recognized relationships or are issues that only affect transgender individuals.  Many of these individuals also face discrimination. Even if your situation is one that is not related to your sexual orientation or gender identity, it is often more comfortable to have a lawyer who is familiar with your life experience and relationship status, without extensive explanations.

In estate planning matters, the lack of legal recognition for same-sex relationships often means that attorneys must use different means to protect client’s assets or interests than for other individuals.  Wills or powers of attorney sometimes require specialized language to protect assets or the interests of a surviving partner.  Individuals in same-sex relationships often face tax issues, gift transfer matters, or other problems that married couples do not.

Same-sex couples also face unique situations in family law.  An attorney with experience in this matters can advise you on how to protect yourself in a new relationship, or how to dissolve a relationship while protecting your rights regarding children or property.  Even experienced family law attorneys without experience or knowledge of LGBTQI matters sometimes advice clients that there is nothing that can be done because of the law.  Attorneys with experience in these areas know what can be done, and often use creative approaches that can resolve your legal issues.  These attorneys also know how or if a marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, or adoption performed in another state or country will be recognized in the state where the attorney practices. 

Finally, transgender or non-gender-conforming individuals face a host of legal issues that other people do not.  These individuals often need to change gender markers on identity documents and often change their names.  It is imperative that these individuals are represented by a lawyer who, not only knows what special procedures they must follow, but also treats clients respectfully and compassionately and uses the correct name and pronouns. 

Members of the LGBTQI community are often treated differently by the law.  In hiring a lawyer, they should make sure that the lawyer they hire is aware of the differences and has the knowledge and experience with these differences to represent them effectively.

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