Equality State Garden, an LGBTQ + activist group, has partnered with two law firms to provide free legal assistance to transgender people in New Jersey who want to change their names.
The partnership with Hunnell Legal Group and McCarter and English comes about a year after the state’s Supreme Court removed the requirement to publish name changes in a newspaper. The ruling made name changes safer and more accessible for transgender people in the Garden State, but financial hurdles associated with legal fees remain.
âAccess to accurate identity documents is essential for transgender people to fully participate in society,â said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. âWe are very grateful to our partners at Hunnell and McCarter & English for their support of the trans community in New Jersey. Removing the financial barrier to updating identity documents ensures that all members of our community can enjoy a certain equality that we have fought for.
New Jersey transgender people can fulfill an online form for help from Garden State Equality and its pro bono legal partners.
Identity documents that can be updated include a driver’s license, state ID card, and birth certificate. Transgender people who want to change their name must also get a court order.
There are fees associated with changing your name in court. Some cost hundreds of dollars.
âWe are very proud to partner with Garden State Equality to ensure that the trans community in New Jersey has access to accurate identification documents, regardless of their financial situation,â said Stephanie Hunnell, of the Hunnell Law Group in Asbury. Park. âCost should not be a barrier to obtaining legal recognition of one’s gender identity.
The National Center for Transgender Equality conducted a national survey out of 27,715 people in 2015 who found that around a third of those surveyed had a negative experience when they showed ID that did not match their gender presentation. A third said they had been verbally harassed, refused benefits or services, asked to leave or assaulted.
Natalie Watson, a partner at McCarter & English, said the Newark-based law firm has previously served as pro bono advice to transgender people seeking name changes and to national organizations that advocate for transgender rights.
âWe are excited to expand the work we have done with Garden State Equality into a broader partnership to help ensure trans people have meaningful access to the name and gender marker change process,â Watson said. in a press release.
Garden State Equality encourages other law firms to contact if they wish to provide pro bono assistance.
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Rebecca Panico can be reached at [email protected].