March 21, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals today reversed Oklahoma County Judge Bill Graves’s refusal to grant a name change to a transgender person. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Foundation, representing local resident Angela Ingram, had appealed the Judge’s denial of her application to change her legally recognized name from James Dean Ingram to Angela Renee Ingram. Angela lives as a woman, and seeks to change her legal name to match her identity.
This is the second ruling from the Court of Civil Appeals reversing such a decision. Judge Graves had denied another application for a name change because that applicant, like Angela, did not conform to his narrow concept of gender identity. That decision, like this one, was reversed on appeal.
“This ruling represents another important victory that says equality and fundamental rights are not dependent upon an individual’s gender identity.” said Brady Henderson, Legal Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma and Ingram’s attorney in the case. Henderson continued by saying “Judge Graves had disregarded Oklahoma law and fundamental principles of free speech and equal protection by imposing his own philosophy over Oklahomans’ personal right to reflect their own identity through their legally recognized name. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals did the right thing in reversing that decision.”
“For Angela Ingram, the ruling is less about principles of law and more about getting on with living her life as who she is, not who a judge thought she ought to be,” said Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. As Ingram herself said reacting to the ruling, “I am happy that I can finally move on.”