State judges now have more discretion over part of the legal process for name changes. And the people who pushed for the change say that it'll help protect transgender individuals from harassment and violence.
For transgender people, legal name-changes are often part of transitioning. They have to file petitions with the state Supreme Court, and a judge's approval is typically followed by the publication of a notice in a newspaper. Those notices include people's original names and their new names, as well as their addresses and birthplaces.
Courts have long recognized that the notices can threaten the safety of certain people, in particular, victims of domestic violence. Judges have had the legal authority to waive the notice requirements, but only for people who've received threats or suffered bodily harm in the past.
But Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill this afternoon that loosens that requirement, giving judges the ability to issue waivers if they determine that publishing a name-change notice puts a person at risk. And the notices do put transgender people at risk of threats, harassment, and violence, says State Assembly member Harry Bronson, who sponsored the bill.
from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs says that the United States had 20 documented anti-LGBT homicides in 2014; 55 percent were transgender women and 50 percent were transgender women of color.