Name-change bill seeks to ease restrictions
by Angela Thomas
Jun 12, 2014 | 686 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A state representative last week introduced a bill that would facilitate the name-change process for Pennsylvanians, which could impact transgender individuals.

On June 6, Rep. Mark Cohen (202nd Dist.) introduced House Bill 2321, a name-change reform bill.

The bill has been referred to the judiciary committee and currently has nine co-sponsors.

The legislation seeks to make four changes to the current name-change process.

It would move the court venue to the Orphan’s Court division within the Court of Common Pleas. It would remove the requirement that the name-change announcement be published in two newspapers of general circulation and would also remove the stipulation that the petitioner asking for a name change has to pay for his or her own judgment search.

Currently, petitioners are required to submit judgment searches, which provide a history of legal judgments involving the petitioner, from each county he or she lived in in the past five years, which could cost more than $100 each.

“The judgment-search requirement, which is not only redundant but is only done in Pennsylvania, was a major barrier for me, having lived in four counties in three states over the preceding five years,” said trans activist Jordan Gwendolyn Davis.

Cohen’s bill would also allow ex-offenders to apply for a name change after one year from the completion of their sentence, lessening the requirement from the current two years.

Davis said the bill would particularly help those who live in poverty and ex-offenders.

“While this legislation is not specific to any community, there are many trans people who live in poverty and/or have been criminalized, and considering that most transgender people will have to change their name in their lifetime, [the current law] creates a discriminatory condition for transgender and gender-variant people,” she said.

Current co-sponsors include Reps. Dan Frankel (D-23rd Dist.), Thaddeus Kirkland (D-159th Dist.), Mike O’Brien (D-175th Dist.), Michelle Brownlee, (D-195th Dist.), Michael Schlossberg (D-132nd Dist.), James Roebuck (D-188th Dist.), Jordan Harris (D-186th Dist.), Steve McCarter (D-154th Dist.) and Mary Jo Daley (D-148th Dist.).

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