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Va. transgender woman granted routine name change after 5 months of ‘scrutiny’

Thursday, May 22, 2014
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LYNCHBURG, Va. — A Virginia transgender woman whose routine name change request was stalled by a Lynchburg, Va., judge who flagged it for “extra scrutiny,” has been granted her request and will not be subjected to a second hearing to justify the change.

Julianna Fialkowski

Julianna Fialkowski

Judge F. Patrick Yeatts granted Julianna Fialkowski’s name change late Wednesday after originally denying the request in January, according to Kate Fletcher, Fialkowski’s attorney.

Fletcher said she received a letter from Yeatts stating that he determined Fialkowski complied with requirements of state law. She said the letter didn’t say why the initial application had been denied.

Fialkowski, 24, who recently completed her first year of hormone treatments, submitted her request for a name change to the Lynchburg Circuit Court in December 2013, but was asked to return a few weeks later for a hearing on the matter.

At the hearing, Yeatts asked Fialkowski about her medical history, how far she was in transition, and if she had gone through gender reassignment surgery.

According to Fialkowski, Yeatts told her the case was under “extra scrutiny” and it would be put under advisement.

The line of questioning lead Fialkowski to believe she was being unfairly discriminated against, because Virginia’s name change laws are among the easiest in the nation. The process consists of completing a few forms and paying a small fee.

“There is nothing in the statute that requires the applicant provide medical information. The application merely requires some demographic information (e.g. name, address, parent’s names, prior name changes etc.) and whether or not you are a felon or are incarcerated,” Fletcher said earlier this week.

“The statute indicates that the name change will be granted unless the name change is being done for a fraudulent purpose or infringes upon someone else’s rights.” said Fletcher.

Fialkowski had been scheduled to appear before Yeatts again on Friday, so the approval caught her by surprise. “I’m just glad it’s over,” she said.


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