Gender Marker and Name Change Resources for Transgender Individuals in Texas

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For the transgender community, updating one's identification and other legal documents is an important and necessary step to achieving a complete transition. Finding the right resources to help transgender individuals navigate the Texas court system can be a challenge. Fortunately, the Houston Volunteer Lawyers are ready to assist. HVL offers regular legal clinics to guide individuals through the legal transition process, providing assistance in drafting the forms required for a gender marker and/or name change. Simply visit the HVL website for details about the application and pre-screening process. Submit your completed Gender Marker Questionnaire to an HVL staff attorney who will review all applicants for suitability prior to making an appointment for the next gender marker clinic. 

Travis County Law Library in Austin also provides resources for those in need of assistance in drafting documents for a gender marker and/or name change. Visit the Travis County Law Library website for detailed information and forms. These forms are drafted specifically for use in the Travis County courts.

The University of Texas Law School also offers help via its student-run initiative, the Trans Name and Gender Marker Project, whose stated mission is "to provide low-income trans applicants with free, high-quality services in preparing petitions for legal name and gender marker changes." Like the Houston Volunteer Lawyers, the Trans Name and Gender Marker Project at the University of Texas Law School requires all interested applicants to complete a short intake form, but once accepted, transgender individuals will get the help they need to both draft a petition for the requested changes as well as guidance in how to proceed with changing identification and other legal documents once a court order is granted. 

For additional information about the legal rights and challenges of transgender individuals, consult the book, Transgender Persons and the Law, which is available in our print collection at the Harris County Law Library. And don't forget to ask for assistance from our reference staff who are always available to help answer questions and direct library patrons to further resources

On a final note, sometimes the best information and support come from within one's own community. The Texas Name and Gender Marker Change Facebook group is a good place to look for answers to commonly asked questions from others who have completed the legal transition process. 

Equal Protection and Transgender Rights

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7369441@N08/8594644828

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7369441@N08/8594644828

Throughout the month of May, we have highlighted civil rights law resources from the Law Library's print collection. Titles currently on display include Transgender Persons and the Law, Section 1983 Litigation in a NutshellAmericans With Disabilities Practice and Compliance Manual, and Sexual Orientation and the Law. We have also been celebrating the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This cornerstone of landmark civil rights legislation has been a source of inspiration for equal justice advocates for nearly 150 years.

The 14th Amendment has been invoked in a great number of historic cases including the trial of Susan B. Anthony (1873), Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Loving v. Virginia (1967), Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), and as recently as yesterday, Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District, a case in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals with important implications for transgender rights.

In Whitaker, a three-judge panel cited the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, arguing that anti-discrimination laws apply to transgender students. They upheld the lower court's injunction, stating that sex discrimination based on gender identity is unconstitutional. This decision, the first ruling of its kind by a court at the federal level, will protect the individual student at the heart of the case and could extend to transgender students as a class. By invoking federal civil rights laws, this ruling has the potential to ensure equality for all transgender people and prohibit discrimination in education, housing, and employment. 

 

 

 

Latest & Greatest – Transgender Persons and the Law, 2nd Edition

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   By Ally Windsor Howell  Published by American Bar Association (2015)  KF 4754.5 .H69 2015

By Ally Windsor Howell

Published by American Bar Association (2015)

KF 4754.5 .H69 2015

Another of the resources published by the American Bar Association and featured here at the Harris County Law Library this month, Transgender Persons and the Law, 2nd Edition, focuses upon whether a person is male or female for legal purposes and guides the reader through the murky waters that are all too familiar for those who do not identify with the gender they were at birth. Having transitioned herself, author Howell appropriately begins her book with an explanation of who a transgender person is. In this way, the reader can gain an understanding of the issues that transgender persons face when attempting to deal with their legal questions and problems. One of the first concerns upon transitioning is the changing of identification documents to match a new name and gender. These documents include birth certificates, social security cards, driver’s licenses, and immigration papers. Where available, the author provides information on the forms required to make the desired changes.

Howell also addresses the issue of discrimination in the use of public facilities, housing, military services and veterans benefits, health care, and employment. Of concern as well is the question of personal safety. Howell devotes a chapter to a discussion of gender-based violence and hate crime laws and domestic abuse. Transgender Persons and the Law, 2nd Edition is a comprehensive text discussing, addressing, and explaining the unique issues faced by transgender persons. The appendices also provide useful information regarding relevant state laws and municipal ordinances and a listing of companies that provide health insurance coverage for sex reassignment surgery. Whether you are an LGBT lawyer or simply want to become more aware of certain issues, Transgender Persons and the Law, 2nd Edition is an excellent resource for you.