Deairra Michelle Venable is a Man who identifies as a Women who was arrested during the Baltimore Uprising in late April. Social media and Mashable reported that Venable was “legally a female” on their identification and was housed with males; we could not locate any court documentation to support the statement that Venable was “legally a female” (such as a court order to obtain a name change). We also note that court documents did not refer to Venable as “female” until 2013, and the current charging document identifies Venable as male.
In order to update name and sex on a Maryland driver’s license or other identification, the applicant must first change name with the Social Security Administration, then submit (1) a document demonstrating the name change, such as a birth certificate, passport, or court order, (2) a letter from the individual requesting a change in gender status, (3) a letter from a physician, and (4) a letter from a psychotherapist. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration addresses name change here. A letter about sex change can be found here. Maryland will issue an amended certificate of birth upon receipt of a certified copy of a court order indicating “the sex of an individual born in this State has been changed by surgical procedure.” The certificate will be marked as amended and a record will be kept that contains “the evidence upon which the amendment is based.” Code Ann., Health-Gen. § 4-214. The applicant must submit a certified copy of the court ordered name and/or sex change, an original copy of their birth certificate, and the applicable processing fee to Division of Vital Records. We could not locate any court orders effectuating legal transition.
No person deserves to be abused while in law enforcement custody, and Venable’s rights were no doubt violated in being held for four days without charge. However, we do not support housing biological males with Women, given the safety concerns posed by such housing arrangements. We understand that Baltimore City does have policies in place for dealing with transgender inmates.