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Archaic rule forcing trans people to out themselves in newspaper adverts overturned by state Supreme Court

Patrick Kelleher December 16, 2020
New Jersey Supreme Court transgender

The Supreme Court in New Jersey overturned a rule that required trans and non-binary people to publish details of a legal name change in a newspaper. (Envato Elements)

Trans and non-binary people in New Jersey will no longer have to take out a newspaper advert telling the public that they have legally changed their name after a discriminatory rule was finally overturned.

The New Jersey Supreme Court amended the rule on Tuesday (15 December) after LGBT+ advocacy organisations detailed the harm the harm the policy could cause to trans people.

Under the terms of the rule, all people who legally changed their name in New Jersey were obliged to take out a newspaper advert detailing their new name and their deadname.

LGBT+ rights activists and advocacy organisations warned that the policy could jeopardise the safety of trans people by forcing them to out themselves in a public forum, and that it created a financial barrier to those who cannot afford to take out newspaper adverts.

The New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision was broadly welcomed by campaigners, who said it would make it easier for trans and non-binary people to legally transition.

“We applaud the New Jersey Supreme Court for recognising the safety and privacy considerations that are often barriers for transgender name change petitioners,” said TLDEF’s name change project counsel Charlie Arrowood.

“Removing the publication requirement for name changes not only makes the process more accessible and affordable to those who need it, but also removes the safety burden of publicising private and personal information.

“At a time when violence against our community continues to break records, granting legal name changes and protecting private medical information will save lives.”

The decision was also welcomed by Garden State Equality, an LGBT+ organisation in New Jersey.

We commend the court for taking this initiative in the name of social justice

“Removing the requirement for people to publish name changes in the newspaper gives transgender and non-binary people the dignity and privacy they deserve,” said the group’s executive director, Christian Fuscarino.

“Eliminating the see financial and social barriers ensures that trans people of all socio-economic backgrounds have one less obstacle in the way of living full and healthy lives.”

The Transgender Legal Defence & Education Fund (TLDEF), along with Garden State Equality and the law firm Lowenstein Sandler, submitted comments to the New Jersey Supreme Court in October arguing that the policy should be scrapped.

Matthew Hintz and Zachary Berliner, attorneys with Lowenstein Sandler, said the Supreme Court’s decision will have a significant impact on the lives of trans and non-binary people from low income backgrounds in New Jersey.

“They will also have greater access to legal name changes without the fees required for two publications,” the attorneys said in a statement.

“We commend the court for taking this initiative in the name of social justice and removing barriers to name changes.”

 

More: New Jersey, supreme court

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