Court erred in declining name change for gender transition
By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times
What you want to call yourself legally is no one’s business but your own, the state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
In a precedent-setting decision, the three-judge panel overturned a ruling by Yuma County Superior Court Judge Lawrence Kenworthy denying a bid by Valeria Cortez to change his name − and without even giving him a hearing. In his order, Kenworthy dismissed the application for “failure to show good cause.”
But appellate Judge David Weinzweig said there was no legal basis for Kenworthy, a Democrat, to reach that conclusion.
He said nothing in Arizona law requires someone seeking a legal name change to provide “good cause” − or, for that matter, any cause at all.
Attorney Abigail Jensen of the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance said the ruling is a significant victory, and not just for those who are going through gender reassignment. She said it sends a message to judges that they don’t get to second-guess the names that people choose for themselves.
“So if someone wants to use a name that other people might think is frivolous, that’s not grounds to deny the name change,” Jensen said.
That is pretty much what the appellate court ruled.