Why Judge Won’t Grant Name Change For Transgender

A transgender person who was born female and identifies as a male has filed for a name change, from “Rebecca Elizabeth Feldhaus” to “Rowan Elijah Feldhaus”.   A Georgia judge is facing backlash for refusing the name change petition, saying it is misleading, as “Elijah” sounds too masculine, and he does not approve of changing names from female to male and vice-versa.

Feldhaus, 24, from Grovetown, GA, was a sergeant with the Army Reserve, attends Augusta University, and works with the Singh Investment Group.   According to Feldhaus’ legal firm, Lambda Legal, “Although doctors assigned his sex as female at birth, Rowan’s gender identity, and therefore his sex, is male.”  

Lambda Legal stated, “He produced an affidavit from his therapist, who confirmed that Rowan is transgender and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and that changing his name would be an important part of his treatment.”

Columbia County Superior Court Judge J. David Roper said, “I don’t know anybody named Elijah who’s female.  I’m not going to do that. I’ve never heard of that. And I know who Elijah was, one of the greatest men that ever lived.”

The judge will approve the first name selection, “Rowan” because that is more gender-neutral, but objects to “Elijah.”   The judge also said that granting a masculine name to a person who is really female could create other problems, such as public restroom safety, confuse emergency personnel, and other situations where gender is relevant.

“It can be a scary situation when I show up for work or the first day of class and my legal name does not match my public presentation and my gender identity,” Feldhaus said. “I just want to change my name so that it reflects who I am.”

Feldhaus is appealing the judge’s decision.

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