LOUISA, Va. – A Virginia transgender man on Monday was granted a name change after having it denied earlier this year by a judge who asked for medical documents proving he was transitioning, contrary to state law.
Jacob Haley, 25, was denied the name change in February when Judge Timothy Sanner said previous name change cases had included doctors notes.
Under Virginia law, name changes “shall contain no identifying information other than the applicant’s former name or names, new name, and current address,” and medical documentation is only required for changing genders on a birth certificate, and similarly for Virginia state ID’s like driver’s licenses.
Sanner, again presided over Monday’s hearing, where he briefly mentioned that they had received criticism after Haley’s original court appearance.
According to Sanner, individuals had contacted the court and said his actions were discriminatory.
Sanner, who repeatedly referred to Haley as “she” and “Miss Haley” throughout the proceedings, defended himself by saying that name changes can be denied to individuals seeking a name change for fraudulent reasons.
And in a bizarre comment made during the proceedings, Sanner added, “there are different rights and responsibilities attached to different genders.”
Haley said that “it bothered me that he continued to bring up that other case, because it had nothing to do with me.” But his attorney, Amy Hensley, presented a letter from a medical professional stating Haley had begun the transition process.
Michael Hamar, a Norfolk based attorney with a history of handling LGBT issues, said he didn’t understand why any further documentation was required or given to Sanner.
“When you look at the statute, you just have to go in there and petition as long as your name change isn’t to defraud creditors and duck out on a past criminal conviction, other than that there’s really no requirement,” said Hamer.