The State Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a transgender person seeking a name change does not have to provide proof of any medical procedure justifying the change, striking down an earlier ruling. The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, a nonprofit advocacy organization, had brought the case to New York Civil Court in February on behalf of Olin Yuri Winn-Ritzenberg, a transgender man who wanted to change his first name from Leah.
In February, Civil Court Judge Manuel J. Mendez had denied the request, saying that Winn-Ritzenberg needed a letter from a doctor or social worker proving the "need" for a name change (i.e. an appropriate sex change). Michael D. Silverman, executive director of the TLDE, argued that state common law allows any adult to change his or her name for any reason. CityRoom also points out that "not all transgender people take steps like hormone-replacement therapy or sex-reassignment surgery; many take the view that gender is socially constructed, or not even a stable or meaningful category altogether."
With this in mind, justices Douglas E. McKeon, Martin Schoenfeld and Martin Shulman finally granted Winn-Ritzenberg's request yesterday, which became a huge victory for transgendered rights in America. Silverman said, "This ruling confirms that each one of us has the right to be known by a name we choose.” And Winn-Ritzenberg said, "This means that I can finally change my name and move forward with my life. My gender transition has been a very personal journey, and no one is in a better position to decide that I need to change my name than I am."