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Say my name


An Oklahoma County’s judge’s refusal to let a transgender person change her name spurs a legal appeal.

Clifton Adcock October 17th, 2012

An Oklahoma transgender individual is seeking to appeal an Oklahoma County district judge’s ruling denying her petition to change her name.

Angela Renee Ingram has the legal name of James Dean Ingram, but lives as a woman.

On Aug. 30, Judge Bill Graves denied her request to make Angela her legal name. He said Ingram’s DNA could not be changed to that of a female, and therefore, allowing a name change would be the furtherance of a fraud.

“[Graves] didn’t speak directly to me until it came to the God and DNA part,” said Ingram. “He said it’s fraudulent because you can’t change what God made you.”

A soft-spoken 29-year-old, Ingram said the realization of what had happened in the courtroom was almost too much to bear.

“I held it together until I finally got dismissed,” she said. “Once I was in the hallway, that’s when I started crying. I just broke down.”

No name change

Graves, a former Republican state representative whose seat now is occupied by Rep. Sally Kern, declined to comment, but said he would be issuing an order in the case soon.

Ingram is not the only transgender person to be denied a name change by Graves. In September 2011, he issued an order preventing Steven Harvey from changing her name to Christie Harvey, claiming the change would be fraudulent since Harvey’s DNA would not be altered.

Expert testimony on the matter was offered by Broken Arrow doctor and Republican state Rep. Mike Ritze.

Graves’ order against Ingram states further that the name change could be used to dupe a man into thinking he was marrying someone of the opposite sex, and thus, violate the state’s ban on same-sex marriages.

The judge concludes the order by quoting from Genesis: “‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.…’ The DNA code shows God meant for them to stay male and female.”


ACLU involvement

Harvey’s case is currently under appeal. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma has taken up the Ingram case for appeal, said Brady Henderson, the state ACLU’s legal director.

Henderson said these are the first two cases he knows of, outside of custody cases, in which a name change order was appealed — and the only one in which a judge consulted a scientific expert in an uncontested case.

“[The DNA citation] is perhaps an argument that makes sense as to some case somewhere out there in the universe. But it has nothing to do with a name change,” Henderson said. “In neither [case] was anybody trying to change their sex as far as what was legally recognized. In a sense, what Graves addresses in the Harvey case is a case nobody is making.”

Said Ingram, “It should be people treating each other as people. All I want is my name changed.”

 
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