It should have been a cut and dry case for a Georgia judge: a transgender man who wants to legally change his name. But Columbia County Superior Court Judge J. David Roper denied the name change. Why? “The question presented is whether a female has the salutatory right to change her name to a traditionally and obviously male name,” the judge wrote. “The court concludes that she does not have such right.”
Rebeccah Elizabeth Feldhaus hoped to have his name match his gender by legally being called Rowan Elijah Feldhaus. The 24-year-old, though, has been in limbo since the judge ruled against the change. Now, Lambda Legal has filed an appear to the judge’s anti-LGBT ruling. Feldhaus is a sergeant in the US Army Reserve (and a hotel worker!).
Superior Court Judge J. David Roper stated that he would deny the requested name unless Rowan chose another middle name, because “Elijah” was not gender-neutral and he “do[es] not approve of changing names from male to female – male names to obvious female names, and vice versa.” Roper said that it could be “dangerous” for a person not to know your gender by your name, but Rowan refused to seek another name to satisfy the judge’s opinion about ‘appropriate’ names based on gender stereotypes.
“I felt insulted and objectified to be told by the court that I would not be able to have the name that my family, my friends, and my co-workers all call me, based on sexist opinions about ‘appropriate’ names. 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. I just want to change my name so that it reflects who I am,” he said.