Oklahoma judge refuses to let men planning sex-change operations have feminine names

Oklahoma County District Judge Bill Graves has denied names changes in two cases where a man was planning a sex-change operation and wanted a feminine name to go along with his new identity. The judge ruled the requests were made for fraudulent purpose.
by Nolan Clay Published: September 16, 2012

© Copyright 2012 The Oklahoman

An Oklahoma County judge is refusing to let men planning sex-change operations switch to feminine names.

District Judge Bill Graves has denied name changes in two such cases so far — last year and again in August. The judge ruled both times the requests were made for a fraudulent purpose.

“I wanted to give up and just die,'' said James Dean Ingram, who asked to legally be known as Angela Renee Ingram but was turned down Aug. 30.

“It's so important because it's who I am. I can't be who I am with a male name,” Ingram said.

The judge's order in the first case is on appeal.

His position also has generated criticism of him at the courthouse.

Five other Oklahoma County judges who handle name change requests told The Oklahoman they routinely grant them in transgender cases.

Graves does not, for scientific reasons. He has concluded a person cannot really change his or her sex because the person's DNA stays the same.

In an unusual move, the judge sought out an expert opinion from a physician.

“A so-called sex-change surgery can make one appear to be the opposite sex, but in fact they are nothing more than an imitation of the opposite sex,” the judge wrote in a seven-page order last year.

“Here, petitioner has not even had the surgery by which his sex purports to be changed. Thus, based on the foregoing and the DNA evidence, a sex change cannot make a man a woman or a woman a man all of which, the Court finds is sufficient in and of itself to deny petitioner's request for a name change,” Graves wrote.

“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.”

The judge also wrote about not wanting to be “complicit in legitimizing sex changes through changes of names.”

The judge in his 2011 order gave three specific reasons against allowing name changes in transgender cases.

He wrote it could result in someone unwittingly marrying a person “who appeared to be of the opposite sex but was actually of the same sex.”

He wrote it also could hinder crime investigations — causing police officers searching for a male based on DNA evidence to ignore a potential suspect the officers believed was female.

He wrote it also could let someone circumvent the state's prohibitions against same-sex marriage.

In an interview, the judge said he stands by his position.

“You'll give me publicity that maybe I don't want,” Graves told The Oklahoman. “If you're born male, you stay male, according to the study I've done on DNA. If you're born female, you stay female.”

In the first request rejected by the judge, Steven Charles Harvey, 62, was seeking to legally change to Christie Ann Harvey.

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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