Trans man sues Republican VP Candidate Mike Pence over Indiana name change law

Mike Pence (R) Vice Presidential Candidate

Mike Pence (R) Vice Presidential Candidate Darron Cummings, AP

A transgender immigrant granted asylum from his native Mexico has filed suit against Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana, the Republican nominee for vice president, claiming a 2o10 law requiring proof of citizenship for a legal name change.

The lawsuit, which also names other Indiana officials, was filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Transgender Law Center on behalf of the unnamed 31-year-old trans man. The suit was first reported by BuzzFeed and details were released in a news release from the TLC. 

Court records identify the plaintiff as “John Doe, formerly Jane Doe,” to protect his identity. He fears he will be targeted if people know he is transgender, reported BuzzFeed. He is 31 years old, was raised in Indiana since the age of 6 and now married to a cisgender [not transgender] woman. Together they have a child. His asylum status was granted in 2015, and he was able to change the gender marker on his official government documents to male, according to the complaint, but due to the Indiana law, his legal name must remain female.

“It is embarrassing to present an ID that doesn’t show who I am,” Doe told BuzzFeed by phone Tuesday. “It shouldn’t be be this hard just to be yourself.”

Doe gave the website a concrete example faced by many American-born transgender individuals: “A couple weeks ago, I had to call insurance company to change records, and they wouldn’t talk to me because they said my voice doesn’t match my name. I had to go through different procedures to show it was me.”

Although the law was passed prior to Pence’s election to governor, he made it a priority to pass a religious freedom law that tangentially upholds this anti-transgender legislation. Also, Donald Trump and Pence have made strict laws for immigration a cornerstone of their White House campaign.

Among the others named in the suit are Indiana Attorney General Gregory Zoeller and Marion County Clerk Myla A. Eldridge.

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