The Georgia Court of Appeals on Friday unanimously overruled a state court judge who declined to allow two transgender men to change their names.
The ruling, written by Judge Elizabeth Branch, granted legal victories to Delphine Renee Baumert, who can now change his name to Andrew Norman Baumert, and to Rebecca Elizabeth Feldhaus, who will now be named Rowan Elijah Feldhaus.
“It’s amazing,” Baumert, 21, said shortly after hearing the news. “It’s an emotional day.”
Superior Court Judge J. David Roper in Columbia County had denied requests by Baumert and Feldhaus to change their legal names. Among Roper’s reasons were that the name changes would “confuse and mislead” the public and amounted to “a type of fraud.”
“When I was first denied the change, I felt very hurt,” said Baumert, a Georgia State University student seeking his master’s degree in chemistry. “I was sad, upset, angry.”
With help from Lambda Legal, the civil rights group that advocates for gay rights, the two men appealed Roper’s decision.
In Friday’s ruling, Branch noted there is “nothing in the law prohibiting a person from taking or assuming another name, so long as he does not assume a name for the purpose of defrauding other persons through a mistake of identity.”
As for Feldhaus and Baumert, Branch wrote, “There was no evidence before the trial court to authorize a conclusion that either of them were acting with any improper motive against any specific person.”
She then sent the case back to the trial court, instructing Roper to enter an order changing the two men’s names.