Democratic Rep. James “J.J.” Johnson introduced legislation at the behest of Governor Jack Markell to allow incarcerated people to change their names based on gender identity. The legislation comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Lakisha Lavette Short, a Woman who identifies as a Man named Kai. Short filed for a name change, which was denied because Short is currently serving a 55-year prison sentence for first-degree robbery, two weapons counts and aggravated menacing. The American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware is now assisting Short in arguing to the state’s highest court that the lower court should have granted the name change.
The legislation would allow people convicted of violent crimes, including sex crimes, to obtain a name change if it is based on a sincerely felt belief in gender identity. This is unacceptable, as it allows rapists like Allison Woolbert to remain undetected and detached from their past histories as violent sexual offenders.