In 2016, Rowan Feldhaus, a transgender student at Augusta University, was denied a petition for a legal name change by a trial court in Columbia County. The same court later denied a name change petition from another transgender man, Andrew Baumert.
The ACLU of Georgia filed amicus briefs in support of both individuals who were represented by Lambda Legal. In January 2017, the Court of Appeals said that the trial court abused its discretion when it found that a transgender person seeking a name change that matches their gender identity is committing a fraud on the public. According to the Court of Appeals, “There was no evidence before the trial court to authorize a conclusion that either [person seeking the name change] were acting with any improper motive.” Transgender people have the same right to choose their name as everyone else.
The ACLU of Georgia thanks its cooperating counsel in Feldhaus, Gail Podolsky, President of the ACLU of Georgia Board and shareholder of Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, P.A. and its cooperating counsel in Baumert, Jeff Cleghorn of Kitchens New Cleghorn.