An Oklahoman seeking a sex change has been allowed a name change by the state Court of Civil Appeals.
James Dean Ingram, 31, was denied the ability to be legally recognized as Angela Renee Ingram in 2012 by District Judge Bill Graves. It was the second time Graves had denied such a request, ruling in both instances they were made for a fraudulent purpose.
In 2010, Graves concluded a person cannot really change his or her sex because the person’s DNA stays the same.
“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.
“To grant a name change in this case would be to assist that which is fraudulent,” Graves wrote.
What court ruling means
On Friday, the Court of Civil Appeals reversed Graves decision, exactly as it had done for his first name change denial, allowing Steven Charles Harvey to change to Christie Ann Harvey in 2012.
The denial by Graves was an unusual one, said Brady Henderson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma. Several Oklahoma County judges told The Oklahoman in 2012 they routinely grant name change requests by transgender individuals.
The civil court’s ruling means Graves must file a reversal in the coming days, and that filing will make the name change legal and final, Henderson said.
Henderson said this ruling, combined with the ruling in the Harvey case, will set the precedent for future name change requests by transgender individuals in Oklahoma that judges cannot allow personal opinion to affect how they rule in these cases.
“Judge Graves had disregarded Oklahoma law and fundamental principles of free speech and equal protection by imposing his own philosophy over Oklahomans’ personal right to reflect their own identity through their legally recognized name,” Henderson said in an emailed statement. “The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals did the right thing in reversing that decision.”
Ingram, who has yet to undergo a sex change operation, is glad to put the ordeal in the past.
“I am happy that I can finally move on,” Ingram said in a statement provided by the ACLU.