OVERRULED: Ohio Court of Appeals Rules in Favor of Transgender Teen Trying to Legally Change Name After Cincinnati Parents Sued

OHIO – An Ohio appeals court overturned a previous judge’s “unreasonable” decision to reject a request by the parents of a transgender teen for a name change for their child.

The 12th District Court of Appeals ruled in a unanimous decision that Warren County Probate Judge Joseph Kirby’s previous rejection of the name change“was arbitrary, unreasonable, unconscionable and based solely upon the transgender status of the applicant’s child,” The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported Sunday.

The court found, in its March 4 ruling, that Kirby failed to properly consider the parent’s wishes as well as the medical advice presented to the judge, according to the Enquirer.

“The parents undertook efforts to satisfy themselves that [their child’s] feelings about his gender identity were ‘real,’ and … were satisfied that [the teen] did not want the name change as part of a ‘fad,’ ‘trend,’ or ‘passing phase,’” the appeals court wrote in its decision, the Enquirer reported.

Kirby denied the name change request on June 22, writing in his decision that “children change significantly and rapidly,” and that a name change is “not reasonable and proper and in the child’s best interest at this time.”


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Cincinnati parents Leigh and Kylen Whitaker sued the judge after he rejected their 15-year-old transgender child’s request for a name change. Both Whitakers are medical professionals in favor of the name change, according to the Enquirer.

Their child came out as transgender in 2017 and has been undergoing therapy at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s transgender clinic. After roughly a year of hormone therapy, the Whitakers requested that their child, Heidi, be able to use the name “Elliott” on all official documentation.

The Warren County Probate Court will now reconsider the Whitakers’ application for a name change.

“This is a huge win,” the Whitakers’ lawyer, Josh Langdon, said, according to the Enquirer. “I believe this is the first pro-LGBT case from the 12th District.”

Kirby approved six requests for name changes from transgender adults and denied requests from three transgender minors in 2018.

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