By Christopher Mangum
Originally published on Advocate.com October 21 2009 4:10 PM ET
A panel of state supreme court justices in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday that a transgender person does not need medical documentation to obtain judicial permission for a name change.
Yuri Winn-Ritzenberg, who petitioned the New York City civil court to
change his name from Leah Uri Winn-Ritzenberg, was denied his request
in February after failing to provide a letter from a physician,
psychologist, or social worker.
The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, a nonprofit advocacy group, took on Winn-Ritzenberg’s case, arguing that transgender people are held to a higher standard when it comes to name-change petitions.
On Wednesday, the three justices ruled unanimously to reverse the lower court's decision. “There is no sound basis in law or policy to engraft upon the statutory provisions an additional requirement that a transgendered-petition present medical substantial for the desired name change,” read the supreme court decision, according to The New York Times.
“This ruling means that I can finally change my name and move forward with my life,” Winn-Ritzenberg said in a statement following the ruling. “My gender transition has been a very personal journey, and no one is in a better position to decide that I need to change my name than I am.”