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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: March 6, 2023 09:45 AM
From: Senator Timothy P. Kearney and Sen. Amanda M. Cappelletti, Sen. Katie J. Muth, Sen. Lindsey M. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Transgender Name Change Assistance Grants
Last session, we introduced a package of legislation aimed at addressing the ongoing challenges and legal barriers transgender individuals and members of the LGBTQ community face when going through the name change process in the Commonwealth. Since introducing these bills, we have continued to hear from members of the community about the need to advance these pieces of legislation, especially at a time when members feel more under attack than ever. In that effort, we are re-introducing this package of bills so that individuals can more easily live as their authentic selves.

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. 

In the 2015 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 presentation were verbally harassed, denied benefits or services, asked to leave, or assaulted.

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. This is an unnecessary financial burden for individuals who are simply seeking to identify as who they are.

Our 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 consider joining us in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as SB524