A three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court (an intermediate appellate court) found that the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas erred by denying a transgender applicant’s name change petition without holding a hearing as required by statute, and, in a concurring opinion signed by all the judges on the panel, indicated that in the absence of any hearing evidence of fraudulent intent, such petitions should be routinely granted. In re A.S.D., 2017 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 3951, 2017 WL 4801515 (Oct. 24, 2017).
The petitioner, identified as male at birth, was convicted on August 25, 2009 of a third-degree felony, “Access Device Issued to Another Who Did Not Authorize Use.” She subsequently transitioned and by the time she filed a name change petition on August 19, 2016, she had been living as a woman for about six years and had not been subject to any probation requirements for more than two years. In her petition, in which she disclosed her past conviction and subsequent events, she swore that there were no outstanding judgments against her, that she had submitted her fingerprints to the State Police as required by statute, and that her reasons for seeking a name change were the obvious ones: she had been using the requested name informally since transitioning, she sought a name consistent with her female appearance in order to avoid the confusion that ensued when her legal name, as reflected in official documents, was not in accord with her appearance or the name by which she was commonly known. “Petitioner believes this name change will lessen social stigma against Petitioner and that it will protect Petitioner from potential harassment and even violence.” The petition also requested a waiver of the usual requirement of publication, and that the record of this proceeding be sealed.