Transgender advocate who fought for legal name change dies at 25

Rowan Feldhaus in July 2016.  CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM



Rowan Feldhaus in July 2016. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

An Augusta man who fought to legally change his name to match his gender identity recently died after complications from surgery, officials said Tuesday.

Rowan Feldhaus was 25.

Feldhaus had a hysterectomy, WRDW-TV reported, and a few days later went into septic shock and lost oxygen to his brain.

Feldhaus was initially denied a request for a name change in July 2016, but the Georgia Court of Appeals in January unanimously overruled the state court judge’s ruling.

“After having been discriminated against by a judge who refused to allow him to change his name because he was transgender, Rowan wanted to make sure that no other transgender person was similarly insulted and objectified,” said Lambda Legal attorney Beth Littrell, who represented Feldhaus. “Because Rowan stood up, Georgia judges are now required to allow people to change their names without bias.”

The transgender advocate was an Army reservist and a student.

“Our hearts are heavy at the tragic loss of a courageous young man who fought for the right to determine his own name and destiny,” Littrell said. “Rowan’s grace, quiet dignity, strength and self-assurance were an inspiration to me and many others who heard his story.”

Before his passing, Feldhaus made the decision to give the Gift of Life by registering as an organ donor, LifeLink spokeswoman Tracy Ide said.

“With the support of his family, Rowan will now save five lives through organ donation and touch immeasurable others as the families, friends and communities of those who receive Rowan’s organs will be forever impacted by the memories, milestones and contributions made possible by this second chance at life,” Ide said.