By: Lindsey Moskowitz Medvin
As we close out the month of June, we can reflect on the many things we celebrate…Father’s Day, graduations, end of the school year, and the start of summer just to name a few. June is also a time to honor the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) community with Pride Month. Pride Month is celebrated in June each year to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. It was a catalyst for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. We have come a long way since then, but we still have a long way to go. For that reason, it is important to raise awareness.
Recently, I was retained to represent a transgender client seeking a name change. Although the process is the same as other adult name changes, the reasons are always different and personal.
This instance was not the first time that I assisted a transgender individual to effectuate a name change, but it was the first time that it coincided with Pride Month. The experience prompted me to gain a deeper understanding of what the name change process means for a transgender individual. I learned that it provides the person with an identity to match the way he/she/they feel. It also minimizes the questions by strangers when he/she/they gives his/her/their name or shows his/her/their photo identification. Many transgender people choose a new name to be known as the reasons for doing so are personal. It may be because his/her/their “dead name,” which is the name given to the person at birth, is too feminine or masculine now. Perhaps, however, the individual is seeking to disassociate from a family who has not honored his/her/their choices. Or, maybe the name just no longer suits that individual. The Court will not inquire as to the personal reasons that guide an individual’s choice to pursue a name change.
In New Jersey, when you commence the name change process, you can choose any name you desire. You can choose to change your first name, middle name, last name or any combination of that. For some people, by the time he/she/they begin the process, that person may have already been known by the chosen name for years or he/she/they may just be making the change. Either way, it can be an emotional process for the individual and changing his/her/their name is a significant step in affirming gender identity.
If you or someone you know is seeking to effectuate a name change, please reach out to me and I would be happy to assist him/her/them through the process.
Lindsey Moskowitz Medvin focuses her practice on family law matters including name changes, adoptions, domestic violence, divorce and child custody arrangements. To reach Lindsey, please call (609) 275-0400 or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.