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Oklahoma

Court overturns judge’s refusal to allow transgender applicant’s name change

Thursday, March 27, 2014
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals has reversed a county judge’s refusal to grant a name change to a transgender person.

Judge Bill Graves

Judge Bill Graves

The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Foundation, representing Angela Ingram, had appealed Oklahoma County Judge Bill Graves’s denial of her application to change her legally recognized name from James Dean Ingram to Angela Renee Ingram.

Angela lives as a woman, and seeks to change her legal name to match her identity. Graves had told Ingram that “you can’t change what God gave you.”

The March 21 ruling is the second time the Court of Civil Appeals has revered such a decision by Graves.

Graves had previously denied another application for a name change because that applicant, like Angela, did not conform to his concept of gender identity. That decision was also reversed on appeal.

“This ruling represents another important victory that says equality and fundamental rights are not dependent upon an individual’s gender identity.” said Brady Henderson, Legal Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma and Ingram’s attorney in the case.

“Judge Graves had disregarded Oklahoma law and fundamental principles of free speech and equal protection by imposing his own philosophy over Oklahomans’ personal right to reflect their own identity through their legally recognized name. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals did the right thing in reversing that decision.”

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