A transgendered Georgia woman Thursday won the right to change her name, a move originally rejected by an Augusta judge. State court judge Duncan Wheale had denied Ben Gatliff's first petition to for a name change to Vickee Gatliff, saying Gatliff would have to wait until sex-reassignment surgery was complete. A gay rights organization helped Gatliff challenge the ruling. Doctors recommend that sex-reassignment patients change their identity before surgery.
Greg Nevins, an Atlanta attorney for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, appeared before Wheale on Thursday and presented medical opinions about the need to change names prior to surgery. Gatliff has encountered problems because her credit cards and driver's license read Ben Gatliff. Wheale granted Gatliff's request.
"We were optimistic that if we were allowed to present how important a name change is in the transitioning process, we'd win," Nevins said. "It's an important part of the medical treatment that you live completely in the gender you're transitioning to."
When Gatliff's transition is complete, possibly by 2005, her birth certificate also will be changed to designate that Vickee Gatliff is female.