APPEAL FROM THE TIPPECANOE CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable Donald L. Daniel, Judge. Cause No. 79C01-1303-MI-33.
FOR APPELLANT: JON LARAMORE, HARMONY A. MAPPES, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Indianapolis, Indiana.
FRIEDLANDER, Judge. VAIDIK, C.J., and MAY, J., concur.
Appellant is a transgender male who identifies as a man, lives as a man, and has undergone extensive medical treatment for gender transition, including gender reassignment surgery. Appellant filed a petition to change his legal gender so tat he could correct the gender markers on his birth certificate. The trial court denied the petition based upon a perceived lack of authority to grant such a request. In this uncontested appeal, Appellant contends that the trial court erred by refusing to grant the petition.
We reverse and remand.
In 1988, Appellant was born in Indiana as a genotypical female. Since 2008, Appellant has received ongoing psychotherapy to address longstanding gender dysphoria
(formerly known as gender identity disorder). As Appellant's desire and readiness to pursue gender reassignment became clear, Appellant began living as a male in January 2011 and shortly thereafter started testosterone treatment, which he has since continued. Appellant legally changed his name in 2012, and he completed sex reassignment surgery the following year. According to his surgeon, Appellant's true gender, based upon psychological and medical testing, is male. Appellant has changed his name and gender mark on his driver's license, as well as with the Social Security Administration. His birth certificate is the only significant life document that remains to be changed.
On March 26, 2013, Appellant filed a petition for change of gender in Tippecanoe Circuit Court. The petition sought an order changing Appellant's legal gender from female to male " for the purposes of meeting the requirements of the Indiana State Department of Health for changing the gender designation on birth records." Appendix at 6. Appellant stated in the petition that he had successfully transitioned to a male role in society, in accordance with accepted medical standards of care for gender dysphoria, and that he desired to change his gender designation so that his birth record " may be more congruent with his appearance and social role." Id.
Appellant appeared pro se at the uncontested hearing on the petition on February 12, 2014. He presented evidence from his surgeon, therapist, and endocrinologist detailing his gender transition. He also provided the court with a letter from the Indiana State Department of Health (the ISDH) setting out its official process for changing the gender marker on birth records. In the letter, the ISDH Birth Record Amendment Supervisor stated in relevant part:
The [ISDH] Registrar's manual states that we need a court order to change the gender on a birth record for a person who has gone through Gender Reassignment Surgery.
The court order needs to tell us the person's name, date and place of birth and needs to tell us to change the original gender of the ...