More than 16 months after asking for a name change, Steven Charles Harvey will be allowed to switch to Christie Ann Harvey.
Ruling in a transgender case, the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals on Tuesday ordered a judge to grant the name change.
“It's a vindication ... It's who I am,” Harvey, 62, said of the new name. “When you're transgendered, you are born with your mind one way and your body another. And it's something that you always know.”
The appeals court ruled Oklahoma County District Judge Bill Graves was wrong to deny the name change last year.
“The trial court's finding that Harvey sought a name change for an illegal or fraudulent purpose is not supported by the evidence,” the appeals court wrote.
Harvey, who lives both in Oklahoma City and New Mexico, asked for the name change last year, before having gender reassignment surgery Dec. 1.
Graves, a former Republican legislator, denied the request.
The judge wrote that a person cannot actually change one's sex through surgery because the DNA stays the same.
“To grant a name change in this case would be to assist that which is fraudulent,” Graves wrote. “It is notable that Genesis 1:27-28 states: ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.' The DNA code shows God meant for them to stay male and female.”
In a four-page opinion, the appeals court found the judge abused his discretion.
“Harvey contends there is no fraud in identifying oneself by a traditionally male or female name while having the DNA of the other sex. We agree,” the appeals court wrote.
“The law does not require males be given traditionally male names, or females traditionally female names, by their parents at birth. Additionally, there are numerous gender-androgynous names.
“The relevant issue in a name change proceeding is not whether the applicant's DNA corresponds with the traditionally male or female name preferred by the applicant. The statute does not change the sex of the applicant, only the applicant's name.”
Most Oklahoma County district judges routinely grant name changes in transgender cases.
“It's an inconvenience when you have a driver's license that has your female picture and the name is still Steven,” Harvey said. “It's just a sad thing when there's somebody like Judge Graves in the system.”
Harvey reported spending more than $18,000 in legal fees to challenge the judge's denial.
“I guess the guy gets his name changed,” the judge told The Oklahoman.
Other name case
The judge in August also denied a name change in another transgender case. The judge refused to let James Dean Ingram, 30, of Oklahoma City, switch to the name Angela Renee Ingram. The judge told Ingram, “You can't change what God gave you.”
Ingram also has appealed the judge's denial.
Ingram dresses in women's clothes and takes hormones that have produced physical changes but has not had surgery yet.