A transgender man is suing Indiana over a law that has blocked him from changing his name.
The man was granted asylum in the US last year as “a protective step” in case he was deported to Mexico, where he could face persecution for being transgender, and is now suing Indiana because of a law that blocks him from changing his name.
The 31 year old, who has lived in the US illegally since the age of 6, is challenging the state of Indiana that requires anyone seeking a name change to provide proof of US citizenship.
The man’s lawsuit is attempting to prove that the law is unconstitutional and forces him to “out” himself as trans whenever he must provide his driver’s license, which displays his gender as male, but has his female birth name.
The law which prevents the man from changing his name was passed in 2010 during a time his attorneys called a “spate of anti immigrant law making.”
He has described the contradiction on his license as something which forces him to disclose “deeply personal information” to strangers. This causes the man embarrassment, humiliation and fear of harassment and violence.
The man, who is only known as John Doe in order to protect his identity, recalled a moment of humiliation in 2013. He had to go to the emergency room for a neck pain and nurses laughed at him when they realised he was transgender.
“I felt really ashamed. I was in pain and I had to go through all that just to get medication,” he told The Associated Press, “I’ve done everything I can and just because of that law I can’t live a normal life like everyone else. I just hate it.”
The man, who is married to a female U.S. citizen, has taken hormone therapy since being diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
He expects to apply for permanent U.S. residency this month, but will still face at least a 3-year wait before that’s approved – meaning he’s stuck with his female name for the foreseeable future.
Indiana’s attorney general’s office declined to comment on the suit, saying it would review the complaint “and file a response in court at the appropriate time.”
Former Democratic state Rep. Dave Cheatham, the author of the law, said he would support amending it to avoid difficulties for immigrants who “have legal status and want to change their name.”
A growing number of foreign-born people are asking the U.S. to grant them asylum because of fears of LGBT persecution in their country of origin.
New York-based advocacy group Immigration Equality put 366 foreign-born LGBT people into the asylum application process last year – more than double the 179 cases it handled in 2010. Currently the group has 600 active cases.