By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com September 16 2012 2:47 PM ET
An Oklahoma judge has stirred controversy with decisions not allowing transgender people to change their names legally, claiming they are making the changes for “fraudulent” purposes, in violation of state law.
Oklahoma County district judge Bill Graves, a former state legislator, also has cited the Bible in disallowing the name changes, The Oklahoman reports. Other judges told the newspaper they routinely grant name changes for people who have undergone or are planning to have gender-reassignment procedures.
In an order last year denying a name change, Graves wrote, “A so-called sex-change surgery can make one appear to be the opposite sex, but in fact they are nothing more than an imitation of the opposite sex.” A person’s DNA stays the same, he wrote, citing a physician he consulted.
“To grant a name change in this case would be to assist that which is fraudulent,” Graves continued. “It is notable that Genesis 1:27-28 states: ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth ... ’ The DNA code shows God meant for them to stay male and female.”
That order, for Steven Charles Harvey, seeking a legal name change to Christie Ann Harvey, is on appeal. Graves denied another request August 30, for James Dean Ingram, seeking a name change to Angela Renee Ingram. “Ingram recalled that the judge said the name change request was fraudulent because ‘you can’t change what God gave you,’” The Oklahoman reports.
Graves was a Republican state representative before becoming a judges. In the legislature, he pushed for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. As a judge, he objected to a state bar association proposal that would bar judges from membership in organizations that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and he accused a bar association committee of “promoting the agenda of homosexuals and lesbians at the expense of the constitutional freedoms of judges and the People they represent.”
Oklahoma County includes Oklahoma City, the state’s capital and largest city. Read more here.