Oregon Judge Approves First Known “Non-Binary” Gender Classification While Georgia Judge Rejects Name Change For Transgender Male

Transgender_Pride_flag.svgThere were two decisions last week that show the current legal tensions over transgender rights. In Oregon, Jamie Shupe, 52, who identifies as neither a male or female was allowed to change from a “female” to a non-binary classification. This is believed to be the first such order in the country. Across the country, Rowan Feldhaus, 24, (who was born a female but identifies as a male) was denied a name change by a judge. These cases follow a decision last month Haque said her organization increasingly hears from non-binary people. Last month, the Gresham-Barlow School District in Oregon paid an elementary school teacher $60,000 after the non-binary teacher complained of no gender neutral bathrooms and colleagues continuing to refer to “he” or “she” rather than using “they” in reference to the teacher.

JudgeHolmesHehnMultnomah County Circuit Court Judge Amy Holmes Hehn (right) ruled that Shupe could change gender classification from female to non-binary. Shupe, a retired Army sergeant, who began transitioning in 2013 from male to female. Shupe chose a new name of “Jamie” and says that “My gender identity is definitely feminine. My gender identity has never been male, but I feel like I have to own up to my male biology.” Thus, Shupe wants to be called a “third sex” or non binary gender. Shupe objects to the use of “he” or “she.” Hehn agreed and ordered the gender change.

DocumentA very different reception awaited Feldhaus who was refused a petition to change from Rebeccah Elizabeth to Rowan Elijah by Columbia County Superior Court Judge J. David Roper (left). Feldhaus was born a female but identifies as a male and wanted a more neutral sounding name. However, Roper found the name was too masculine and took particular issue with the use of Elijah, saying that

“I don’t know anybody named Elijah who’s female . . . I’m not going to do that. I’ve never heard of that. And I know who Elijah was, one of the greatest men that ever lived.”

If this is an accurate quote, I find the ruling highly questionable since it seems to bring in the judge’s identification or recognition of the religious understanding of Elijah. It is also highly questionable for a court to sit in judgment on the propriety of particular names — forcing citizens to convince the judge on the appropriateness of the name. As have previously discussed how other countries have far more stringent rules on both the adoption and changing of names. We have also discussed a previous Tennessee judge who barred a couple from naming their child Messiah because it is reserved for Jesus Christ. The judge was later charged with an ethics violation over the order.

Feldhaus met the requirements for a name change and included an affidavit from his therapist confirming transgender status and the importance of a name change for the treatment for gender dysphoria. Feldhaus taking hormone replacement therapy with testosterone shots. However, Roper ruled that “I do not approve of changing names from male to female – male names to obvious female names, and vice versa.”

The Georgia ruling in my view is unsupportable. However, the Oregon controversy comes down to a matter of state law on whether the state allows for a new category for gender other than biologically determined genders. The issue raises obviously difficult constitutional and policy questions. A state could argue that there is a rational basis for using biological determinations on gender while allowing names changes to fit whatever gender or non-gender a person prefers.

What do you think?

20 thoughts on “Oregon Judge Approves First Known “Non-Binary” Gender Classification While Georgia Judge Rejects Name Change For Transgender Male”

  1. Well, well, well, Maybe what happened in Orlando will put an abrupt stop to this nonsense. Obama will be gone soon this will definitely help. The US isnow the brunt of all homosexual jokes around the world. Killing folks I can’t get with but a little old fashion Gay Bashing I can cosign maybe we
    ) can get our country back. Here’s the choices for the Trannies, use the damn bathroom according to the gender assigned to you by The Most High, holding till you get home or piss on yourself.

  2. Karen S., the news broke back in January that the Olympic International Committee HAS voted to allow men to compete as women in the Olympics even if they have not undergone sexual reassignment surgery. Under the new guidelines, any male can compete in women’s events if he declares that he believes himself to possess a “female” personality or mentality, and if his testosterone levels remain less than 10 nmol/L for the duration of one year leading up the Olympics.

    Normal testosterone range for males is 9 – 38 nmol/L

    Normal testosterone range for females is 0.5 – 2.4 nmol/L

    So men can compete as women when their testosterone level is at the low range of normal — for men! And for women a “high normal” is only 2.4!

    Enjoy your women’s medals, fellas.

  3. Require people to identify by what runs through their veins. If they cannot change their blood type then they most certainly cannot change the genetics that created it.

    1. But it doesn’t matter that I’m 0-positive when I feeeeel like I’m AB-negative! I’m so rare and special that you must change my birth certificate in order to validate my feelings of specialness!

  4. Let’s say that you can pick whatever gender you want, regardless of any biological reasons, such as chimerism.

    And let’s say that the Olympics becomes dominated by people who formerly identified as men but now identify as women so as to absolutely kill it in women’s sports, using Title IX, which was put into law to give women a chance to play sports.

    So now no biological women can play sports in the Olympics.

    Would that be OK? There could be a lot of unintended consequences to removing gender classifications. For instance, since the overwhelming majority of transgender kids revert back to their biological gender identification by adulthood, and if those kids are given free access to the opposite biological gender’s changing rooms and showers…that could make for some interesting times for all involved in the statistically likely event where the opposite biological sex suddenly becomes attractive.

    Actual non binary gender classifications would be very rare – such as in cases of chimerism where some of the patient’s cells are XX, and some are XY. Or you have some people who are XXY. These people do exist, and they deserve our acceptance and support. I think the literal biological definition should be the only time this classification should be used.

    On the other hand, gender dysphoria is a mental disorder as classified in the DSM IV, similar to body dysphoria, in which what the patient sees in the mirror does not match their self image in their mind, which is very distressing. As with any mental illness, these people deserve our protection and support. But it is currently considered a mental illness. At some point, that classification may change. If gender reassignment surgery actually permanently makes the patient happy with themselves, then that is an option. But the high suicide rate among those who have had the surgery is troubling. It could mean they are still not accepted, or it could mean that a 6’5″ biological male has an internal mental image of a petite, daintily boned 5’0″ female. That’s for the mental health community to help with.

  5. North Carolina has a rule which says that if you were born with a male thing then you go to the male public denominated restroom to “rest” (no to pee). This non binary word is BS.

  6. Sandi H., if you have never told people you are heterosexual, you are very unusual. Most people do so in many ways every day. They hold hands walking along the street, give their partner a peck as they separate for the day, put an arm around a partner’s shoulder at a movie, display a photo of their partner or family on a desk or sidetable, mention vacations-weekend plans–family events, mention their wives/husbands, At weddings or in response to engagement or baby announcements, they talk about their own origin stories and families. So many common public and workplace conversations include such mentions. And yet so often we hear complaints that a gay man who does the same is “flaunting his sexuality.” Sex may be between the involved partners, but family relationships are commonly a matter of public conversation and display.

  7. I cannot accept the non-binary decision. I don’t know what the judge was smoking. I agree with the judge on the name issue. Elijah is not a neutral name.

  8. I’m no lawyer, but I don’t think either ruling is correct.

    First off, let a person change their name to whatever they want. A name is just a word.

    But “nonbinary” as a sex classification? There is no such thing. With the exception of those who are born with an intersex condition, a person is either male or female. I do not think historical records should be muddied with false information simply because a person claims to “feel” like the opposite sex. What does it “feel” like to be a man? What does it “feel” like to be a woman? I am a woman, but how do I know other women feel as I do? Are my feelings female feelings? How would anyone know what it feels like to be someone else? I have no idea. I feel like I am simply a person. I think a lot of people — both male and female — share my feelings. Does that mean I am nonbinary?

    I think it is unwise to put false information on birth certificates and state-issued ID cards. Crime and population statistics will become skewed, criminals will be able to hide more easily, and history will be recorded inaccurately. If a person undergoes medical treatment to appear more like the opposite sex, perhaps that could be noted on their birth certificate or ID card, but their true biological sex should not be erased from historical records.

  9. “and included an affidavit from his therapist confirming transgender status and the importance of a name change for the treatment for gender dysphoria.”

    The treatment for this disorder is to accommodate it? I believe the court should not block the name change but they should require a gender identity based on physical evidence. Whatever a crime lab would use to identify the gender taken from a blood sample should be what goes on a person’s ID.

  10. So many thoughts!
    The court system works, sometimes slowly
    The rulings speak to, among other distinguishing factors, to the folks that “founded” the two disparate states. Those that created Oregon were the good kind of crazy and the laws there reflect good crazy. Georgia settled by wealthy empowered slave owners. Hmmmm

  11. Judging people by their gender or race is usually a shortcut to figuring out who has more social status, who deserves more money. It’s an anachronism. It is destructive to a functional society.

  12. The name game!
    Lets do Wilma!
    Wilma, Wilma bo Milba, bananna fanna fo milba.

    Look folks. Names should go with real gender. Real gender goes with the tool that hangs while on the stool or does not hang while on the stool. A short dong is still a dong. But a hole in the wall is a horse of a different sort.

  13. I would never refer to an individual as “they.” Unless, perhaps, the individual had multiple personalities.

  14. The Georgia decision was wrong.
    The Oregon decision is plain old insane.

    Both verdicts should be tossed. Name change? No problem.

    Suing because people refer to others as male and female? ABSURD

  15. I don’t think an ID card is meant to list people’s feelings or preferences. I think people should dress however they like, but the ID cart is supposed to be the unambiguous scientific truth, real world facts, not psychological impressions or abstract thoughts.
    I can’t imagine a reason not to let someone choose his name though. So I guess I disagree with both judgments…

  16. If I was gay I would stop parading, going to known gay facilities, or doing anything else publicly talking about being gay. Proudly stating your preference and risking your life is just crazy. We don’t know where these Islamic terrorists are. This attacking gay people could become a constant in our lives. Protect yourselves, and have some consideration for those who love you, by keeping your sexual lives to yourself. I have never told anyone that I’m heterosexual and this is the only time I will mention it. Sex is between you and your partner. Let’s keep it that way.

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