Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US – Three transgender convicted criminals, including a rapist, are challenging a 20-year-old Pennsylvania state law that bars individuals convicted of certain serious felonies from ever legally changing their names.
The plaintiffs, who are biologically male, say they are “hampered by the discrimination and confusion that results from being women who present identification that causes them to be incorrectly perceived as male.”
The lawsuit was filed in Common Pleas Court on Wednesday, May 29, and has the goal of overturning a 1998 amendment that prevents those who commit such offenses as murder, rape, statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, and aggravated assault from ever changing their names.
54 Pa.C.S. § 702(c)(1)–(2), the “irrebuttable conviction bar” clause, is an “unconstitutional” infringement on transgender rights, the lawsuit claims. While the men “live openly in accordance with their female gender,” they “are forced to use male legal names.”
One of the plaintiffs, Robert Lee Noaker, Jr., served 10 years in prison for rape. Mr. Noaker “identifies as American Indian Two Spirit and teaches about Two Spirit and transgender issues,” court documents show. He is fighting to change his name to Priscylla Renee Von Noaker.
In his memoir, the convicted rapist says Facebook’s authentic name policy causes him “emotional turmoil,” “lowered self-esteem” and “suicidal wishes,” and demands transgender users file a class-action lawsuit against the company. Another of Mr. Noaker’s pet causes is the fight for all “restrooms, dressing rooms, locker rooms, etc.” to be made “neutral or gender-neutral.”
Scott Porter, who is battling to become Chauntey Mo’Nique Porter, and Adolphus Talley, who hopes to become Alonda Talley, were each convicted of aggravated assault.
Attorneys from the law firm Reed Smith are representing the three men pro bono in the name change lawsuit.
The Reed Smith law firm works in tandem with financial giant Bank of New York Mellon, the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, and the Garden of Peace Project to help indigent transgender individuals change their names. The pro bono enterprise, which was born in New York City and has expanded to multiple states, is known as the Name Change Project.
It will now be up to the court to decide whether a man’s special interest in having a feminine name overrides the general interest of public safety.
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The Philadelphia Inquirer
Alonda Talley, a Philadelphia transgender woman, is one of three Pennsylvanians who filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Commonwealth Court challenging a 20-year-old provision that prevents them from legally changing their names.
Three Pennsylvania transgender women filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Common Pleas Court challenging a 20-year-old provision that prevents them from legally changing their names.