On August 3, 2018 three women who all have children who identify as transgender filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against Judge Joseph W. Kirby of Warren County, Ohio alleging Judge Kirby discriminated against their children by not granting their name change petitions. The complaint alleges that Judge Kirby “has a pattern and practice of treating name change requests from transgender adolescents differently than other name change requests.” The plaintiffs are Stephanie Whitaker and Jennifer Shaul, who are suing on behalf of their 15-year-old children whose name change petitions were denied, and an unidentified woman who is afraid that Kirby will deny her 17-year-old’s petition.
In his written order denying a name change to a 15-year-old seeking to be known as Elliot Whitaker, Judge Kirby stated that Whitaker “lacks the age, maturity, knowledge, and stability to make this decision.” He additionally requested Whitaker “ask this Court again once you become an adult.”
“According to Whitaker’s complaint, Judge Kirby asked the girl whether she had considered gender reassignment surgery and whether she was attracted to women.”
In order to obtain a name change in Ohio, an applicant must file a petition in the probate court of the county in which the applicant lives. The applicant must:
- Set forth that the applicant has been a resident of the county in which he or she is seeking a name change for at least one year prior to filing the application;
- State the reason for which the applicant is seeking the name change;
- Specify the new name the applicant is seeking; and
- Provide notice of the name change in a newspaper of general circulation at least 30 days prior to the hearing. The notice must contain the county probate court in which the application was filed, the case number, and the date and time of the hearing. The applicant must provide proof that he or she provided said notice. Where providing notice would jeopardize the applicant’s personal safety, the applicant may be granted a waiver.
- Individuals who have been convicted of, pleaded guilty to, or been adjudicated as juveniles of identity fraud, sexually oriented offenses, or child-victim oriented crimes, are not permitted to change their legal names in Ohio.