I recently represented a young (18) trans-woman who wished to change her first name to something that seemed to her to be more feminine. The judge initially denied her request (asserting that it seemed to him she was changing it for fraudulent reasons - the only grounds the law allowed him to deny her request). Then, she retained me and I was successful in getting him to change his ruling. One question he asked me was "Counselor, shouldn't we wait with this name change until your client has completed transition?" (I successfully argued NO).
In the article copied below the fold, is a story about a man who transitioned to become, legally, female and has now been denied permission to transition back again to male, for purposes of marriage. [UPDATE: I just got the full text of the opinion. You can read it here).
I understand this article correctly, Steph was successful in transitioning (from male to female) the first time, including getting his birth certificate amended. Now, he needs to transition from female to male, legally. As I'm sure many of our FTM brothers already know, this is a bit more difficult. It is, of course, complicated by the fact that he (apparently) already (still?) has a penis, so it will be difficult for him to show that he's had sexual reassignment surgery. It seems to me that he has two options: 1) Convince his judge that he has successfully re-transitioned (I'd like to understand his lawyer's approach of asserting a "mistake"; that seems destined to fail, to me) or 2) Getting married in either Ohio, Texas, Kansas, or Florida (whichever state does not have a residency requirement). No matter what he does or what a Wisconsin birth certificate says, he's still legally male in those states. Just ask J'Noel Gardiner. See the following footnote in this post: In re Estate of Gardiner, 273 Kan. 191 (2002) (Wife received no share of estate upon death of husband as court said she was a man in the eyes of the law, despite sexual reassignment surgery, birth certificate noting her as female [issued in Wisconsin], and having satisfied all other prerequisites to marriage).
I wish this person luck. I wish we didn't have a system that confined people to one of two sexes -- and then doled out benefits based upon which sex that system determines you to be.
Chippewa Herald - Chippewa Falls,WI,USA
Court refuses request to change gender on birth certificate again
By ROBERT IMRIE
Tuesday, December 4, 2007 4:45 PM CST
WAUSAU, Wis. - A Green Bay man who amended his birth certificate to change his sex to female failed Tuesday in efforts to have it revised again to identify him as male.
Stephanie Calewarts asked for the latest change after marrying a woman last year. Brown County revoked their marriage license because Calewarts' birth certificate listed him as female. Same-sex marriages are banned in Wisconsin.
Calewarts contended that a judge's 2000 order changing his birth certificate to female was an error based on mistakes and misunderstandings. Calewarts said he had some surgery done for health reasons, not to change his sex.
But the 3rd District Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the time for Calewarts to appeal or challenge Brown County Circuit Judge J.D. McKay's decision had long passed.
McKay properly rejected the petition Calewarts filed in October 2006 requesting that his birth certificate list him as male, the three-judge panel said.
"Oh God, no," Calewarts said when told of the appeals court decision. "I am scared to death right now. I am not going to see my wife. She is the only thing that means anything to me. I am a nobody right now."
Calewarts vowed to appeal.
"If I got to take it to the federal Supreme Court, I will," Calewarts said in a telephone interview from his Green Bay home.
His attorney, Megan Carollo, did not immediately return a telephone message Tuesday.
According to court records, Calewarts was born Stephen T. Calewarts on Oct. 28, 1949, in Kenosha. Calewarts had "ambiguous genitalia" _tissue for both a penis and a vaginal opening _ because of birth defects. His birth certificate identified him as male.
Calewarts had surgery in July 1999 to correct some medical problems. It included the removal of his testicles, court records said.
Afterward, he sought a new birth certificate changing his first name to Stephanie in honor of his late grandmother, who raised him and called him that as a child, court records said.
Calewarts said he mostly goes by Steph, which he claims could be a name for either a male or female.
Following what a doctor described as gender reassignment surgery in Montreal in 2000, Calewarts had his birth certificate amended to list him as female, court records said.
Calewarts said Tuesday he pursued that paperwork only because the Canadian doctor advised him he had to do it.
He didn't learn of the ramifications until after he married a woman from New Zealand in September 2006 and their marriage license was revoked.
Because the marriage was null, the woman couldn't get a visa to stay in the United States, Calewarts said.
In an effort to change the birth certificate again, Calewarts submitted an affidavit from a Green Bay doctor who concluded that while he had some female traits, he was predominantly male with characteristics including a prostate. Calewarts' "surgical reconstruction" was done for health reasons, the doctor said.
"I thought I was going to have two birth certificates. One of each. Big deal. I was born with two genders," Calewarts said Tuesday. "I can't have sexual intercourse because nothing works."
He is a male, he said. He dresses like a man and speaks in a deep voice. His driver's license lists him as male.
"I can put them under the table when it comes to drinking like a guy," he joked.
Calewarts, who owns a Green Bay demolition and renovation company called Tool Belt Divas, said he has already spent $2,000 trying to fix his birth certificate.
"I have to get this changed," he said.
The appeals court suggested Calewarts petition McKay again and argue that "extraordinary circumstances" dictate that the birth certificate be changed.
A Milwaukee judge married a transsexual and a woman last March after finding there was no legal reason to prevent it. The judge determined the transsexual remained a man even though he lived as a female.