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05/25/2024 02:15 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20230&cosponId=40303
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: March 24, 2023 09:45 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
 
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.
 
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 SB574