Lynchburg Transwoman Granted Name Change
In a reversal of his original decision, Lynchburg judge F. Patrick Yeatts has granted transwoman Julianna Fialkowski a name change.
Lawyer Kate Fletcher received the information late this afternoon via fax. She suggested it was the brief she filed, combined with the press around the issue, which led the judge to rule based on the statute which is what they had asked for all along.
“Julianna has complied with the statute and wasn’t requesting the name change for fraudulent purpose, nor to infringe on anyones rights,” said Fletcher. “There for he is granting the request.”
Fialkowski said she jumped up and danced around the room after she heard the good news. “I’m glad it’s over” she said.”
She has a message for other who fear they might have to go through a similar experience when they seek a name change. “I don’t think holding back on account of being afraid for yourself is necessary;” Fialkowski said. “If enough support is sought after, it will be found.”
She told GayRVA earlier this week Judge Yeatts said her the case was under “extra scrutiny” and it would be put under advisement after asking her medically specific questions pertaining to her transition, something not relevant to a name change request.
This line of questioning lead Fialkowski to believe she was being unfairly discriminated against.
Even in traditionally conservative Lynchburg, Fialkowski said she hadn’t ”faced any discrimination up until this point.”
Yeatts served as counsel to Jerry Falwell’s conservative Liberty University in the 90′s, and he was a legislative aide for state Sen. Stephen Newman when the Senator wrote VA’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the Marshall-Newman amendment. He was elected to the Lynchburg Judgeship in 2011 by the state’s General Assembly.
Virginia’s name change laws are some of the easiest in the nation. The process consists of a few forms and a small fee. When GayRVA reached out for legal advice for those denied a name change, lawyers were surprised to hear it even happens.
“There is nothing in the statute that requires the applicant provide medical information. The application merely requires some demographic information (e.g. name, address, parent’s names, prior name changes etc.) and whether or not you are a felon or are incarcerated. The statute indicates that the name change will be granted unless the name change is being done for a fraudulent purpose or infringes upon someone else’s rights,” said Fletcher earlier this week.
But Fletcher wasn’t sure this would be the last time such a case of discrimination would pop up again in rural Virginia.
“I think it might happen again, but I think if it goes to a hearing we would be successful,” said Fletcher.
“This is a great step forward, and hopefully other judges will hear of this and other judges will not ask for information that isn’t relevant.”
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