Transgender Asylee From Mexico Sues Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for ‘Discriminatory’ Name-Change Law

By Yessenia Funes Sep 14, 2016

A transgender asylee from Mexico filed a civil rights lawsuit yesterday (September 13) that challenges an Indiana law barring noncitizens from legally changing their names.

The plaintiff, identified only as “John Doe, formerly known as Jane Doe” in court documents, has been transitioning since 2010. The husband and father of a newborn wants to change the traditionally female name he was given at birth to the male name he uses now, but he can’t because he lacks proof of citizenship.

Doe began living in the United States in the 1990s and in 2015 received asylum from the persecution he faced in Mexico due to his transgender identity. “It is embarrassing to present an ID that doesn’t show who I am,” he told BuzzFeed News. “It shouldn’t be be this hard just to be yourself.”

Doe’s suit, which is being handled by the Transgender Law Center and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, names a number of state officials including Indiana governor and Republican vice presidential candidate Mike Pence as defendants.

From the complaint :

Mr. Doe faces discrimination and harassment regularly because he cannot obtain a change of legal name and update his official documents. Mr. Doe’s inability to change his legal name and update his ID has caused him serious emotional distress and difficulty in his day-today activities every time he is required to present his government-issued ID.

When others see Mr. Doe’s ID, they often suspect or realize that he is transgender. Others question whether the ID is a fake and suggest that he is committing fraud. To allay those accusations of fraud, Mr. Doe is often forced to disclose and explain his transgender status.

Mr. Doe feels uncomfortable by the reactions of others when they see his ID. He fears harassment, arrest, or even violence at the hands of anyone who sees his ID.

The constant threat of harassment due to the inconsistency between Mr. Doe’s name on his ID and his gender identity and expression makes him anxious and worried, even to leave his house

(H/t BuzzFeed News)