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05/29/2024 12:48 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 15, 2022 10:30 AM
From: Senator Katie J. Muth and Sen. Amanda M. Cappelletti, Sen. Timothy P. Kearney, Sen. Lindsey M. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Ending Felony Prohibition for Name Changes
After learning more about the challenges facing transgender Pennsylvanians at a Senate Democrat Policy Hearing held last June, my colleagues and I are introducing a package of bills to reform the name change process and remove some of the legal barriers the LGBTQ community faces when living as their authentic selves.
In the near future we will be introducing legislation to eliminate both the permanent bar and the two-year wait period for formerly incarcerated felons who have served their time and wish to change their names so that they can live life as their genuine identity.  Under current law, individuals with certain felony convictions are permanently barred from changing their name.  For other felony convictions, individuals must either be pardoned, or wait two years after serving their sentence and not be on parole or probation.  Our legislation will remove the two year waiting period and allow people with prior felonies that are currently barred from the process to be able to petition the court for a legal name change.
With no such conditions existing for people wanting to change their name due to marriage or divorce, the restrictions against name changes for other reasons are arbitrary and unnecessary.  For transgender people these restrictions cause stigmatization, create barriers to employment, housing and other necessities, and put them at risk of discrimination and violence.   
These provisions were based on an unfounded presumption that persons convicted of felonies would change their name for fraudulent purposes. However, a legal name change does not erase one’s past identity as an individual can still be identified by their social security number, fingerprints or DNA. In fact, allowing those with past convictions to access a state recognized name change would create an official record of the change that would better serve the state’s interest in preventing fraud. 
Transgender people, regardless of their past, deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else and to be able to live according to their gender identity.  Removing barriers to a legal name change can help them achieve that goal.  
Please join us in co-sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as SB1155