In Re Feldhaus

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Status: Closed
Outcome:
Victory
Issues: Transgender Rights

Case appealing a trial court decision denying a transgender man’s name change petition.

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Rowan Feldhaus, 24, is from Grovetown GA. He works with the Singh Investment Group and is a student at Augusta University. Although doctors assigned his sex as female at birth, Rowan’s gender identity, and therefore his sex, is male. He filed a petition for name change in July 2015.  Even though Rowan provided all the necessary information for a name change, in March 2016, the court denied Rowan’s petition based on what Judge Roper described as “this court’s policy” of denying names that are not indicative of gender in a way he personally approves.

Lambda Legal filed an appeal arguing that the trial court’s denial was an abuse of discretion, discrimination based on sex, and a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

In January 2017, The Georgia Court of Appeals unanimously reversed a lower court decision, saying that the judge had abused his discretion in denying name changes where there was no evidence that the requests were made for an “improper purpose.”

The Court sent the case back to the trial court with direction to grant the name changes sought by Rowan Feldhaus and Andrew Baumert.