Transgender inmate granted name change after Virginia State Supreme court intervenes twice
A transgender inmate in a federal corrections facility has been granted a name change after the Virginia Attorney General filed a brief supporting her petition.
Alicia Jade Brown, a convicted sex offender incarcerated at the Petersburg Medium Federal Correctional Institution, filed for a name change in February 2013, but her request was denied. She then appealed to the Virginia State Supreme Court which ruled for her and sent the case back to the lower court. The judge in that case denied the petition again.
During this second appeal, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring filed an amicus brief supporting Brown’s right to change her name.
“The mere fact that someone is transgender is not a legally sufficient reason to deny a name change,” said Michael Kelly, Director of Communications for the AG office.
The case of a second inmate from the same facility, Ashley Jean Arnold , was denied and was under appeal however in February 2015, she had committed suicide. Both requests were denied by the same lower court Judge.
Virginia is supposed to be one of the easiest states to get your name legally changed, according to Norfolk based attorney Michael Hamar.
“Most of my clients, it’s so easy they do it themselves,” said Hamar. “They get the form, they fill it out, they get on the docket, and it gets entered.”
In the Brown case, her gender dysphoria (transgender) qualified for a name change in the eyes of the State Supreme court and the attorney general.
“The Court should make clear in its opinion that a prisoner’s transgender identity, standing alone, is not a sufficient basis to conclude that her application lacks good cause or fails to satisfy the statutory criteria,” reads Herring’s brief.
A judge does have the right to halt a name change if the believe it is being sought for a “fraudulent purpose,” and even clarifies it is harder for convicted sex offenders to obtain a name change unless “the court finds that good cause exists” for the name to change.
In May, 2013, Juliana Filakowski was denied a name change by a Lynchburg judge and in June 2013, Louisa County transman Jacob Haley was similarly denied a name change by a local judge.
Both name change requests were granted in those cases, but it took the State Supreme Court to allow the same for Brown.
While many trans Virginians don’t face hurdles in the process, Brown and Arnold are among four cases GayRVA has found in the last three years.
Top image via Federal Bureau of Prisons
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