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Charlie Marion Kerr scores legal victory in name change battle

Charlie Kerr has won the right to have

Charlie Kerr has won the right to have her name legally changed without language inserted noting that her legal name change "does not constitute proof of change in gender." Photo Credit: Sheila Anne Feeney

A 22-year-old Bed-Stuy student who had language inserted into a name change indicating that the court order "does not constitute proof of change in gender," has won the right to have the language deleted and not to be singled out as a transgender person.

The case concerned Charlie Marion Kerr, formerly known as Charles Marshall Kerr, who had the gender clause inserted into the legal name change she was granted on March 17.

The court order to remove the language -- issued on April 29 -- is important because "there is a constitutional right to privacy," and gender commentary in such documents, which often are used to correct records in banks, government agencies and other institutions, "is gratuitous and exposes (transgender people) to discrimination and harassment," said Noah Lewis, a staff attorney for the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.

When Kerr applied to change her name, "she wasn't asking for the court to comment on her gender or change her gender," Lewis noted.

While the case is not technically precedent setting, "it will effectively end this practice in New York City," Lewis said.

Kerr said in a statement that she appreciated the Civil Court of the City of New York "recognizing my name change and deleting words that stigmatized me and jeopardized my privacy and safety. Now I can move on with my life as the person that I am."

The TLDEF helps about 200 transgender people a year change their names legally. "It's very empowering to get rid of a name that doesn't match who you are," Lewis said.


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