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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: January 13, 2022 03:06 PM
From: Representative Benjamin V. Sanchez and Rep. Melissa L. Shusterman
To: All House members
Subject: Transgender Community Name Change Assistance Grants

It is our intention to introduce legislation that would help transgender individuals address their unique challenges when going through the process of changing their names by establishing a grant program for organizations that provide guidance and assistance to these individuals navigating this process.
Transgender individuals are faced with discrimination and harassment that is exasperated by the additional burdens of obtaining legal documents that reflect their identities. Beyond the emotional impact on an individual for not being able to legally identify as themselves, transgender individuals will face difficulties traveling, registering for school, and accessing many services that require documentation.

Establishing a grant program for organizations, county governments, and municipal governments that provide focused services to the transgender community would greatly impact these constituents and allow access to unique health and legal needs that require a specific skill set and knowledge. Often underfunded and understaffed, these organizations and government entities would have the opportunity to meet the needs of their clients with funding through this grant program. It could also help individual constituents who see financing the cost of the care these organizations provide a barrier therefore broadening the reach and efficacy of such services. Navigating the process of acquiring gender and identity affirming documentation in Pennsylvania often comes at a high cost to individuals. The current process requires an applicant to petition the court and publish notice in two newspapers.
In one US Transgender Survey, 35% of individuals in Pennsylvania who have not changed their legal name and 27% of those who have not updated the gender on their IDs reported that it was because they could not afford to. In addition, 30% of respondents who have shown an ID with a name or gender that did not match their gender identity were verbally harassed, denied benefits or services, asked to leave, or assaulted.

The need within Pennsylvania’s transgender community to address systemic barriers these individuals face is unmet and growing. With this grant program, we can ensure that one of the most vulnerable communities in Pennsylvania has the support it needs. Further, by providing this money to local governments and organizations, we can ensure it is spent by those who know the issues and needs of their community best. Our commonwealth will be stronger and more inclusive with this investment.

This legislation would direct that money be allocated, from the general fund, to establish a grant program, housed in DCED, for organizations, county governments, and municipal governments that assist transgender individuals in navigating the process of changing their names.

Please send a clear message to your transgender constituents that you support them by joining us in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB2424