ATLANTA, Ga. — Attorneys for a Georgia woman who identifies as a man have filed an appeal after a superior court judge denied her request for a name change as it could be misleading and even present potential danger.
In March, Superior Court Judge J. David Roper denied the request of Rowan Feldhaus, 24, who wanted to change her middle name from Elizabeth to Elijah. She had already had her first name changed from Rebeccah to Rowan.
“I don’t know anybody named Elijah who’s female,” Roper said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “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.”
He also told Feldhaus that he felt the first name Rowan was gender-neutral enough, and that changing Feldhaus’ middle name might confuse those emergency personnel and others who need to know the woman’s actual gender.
Feldhaus had supplied the court with confirmation from her therapist that she had been diagnosed with gender dysphoria and that the Aname change was needed as a part of her treatment. She also advised that she was receiving testosterone shots as hormone therapy.
Roper advised that if Feldhaus chose a more gender-neutral name, it might be considered, but he “do[es] not approve of changing names from male to female—male names to obvious female names, and vice versa.” Feldhaus refused.
“I felt insulted and objectified to be told by the court that I would not be able to have the name that my family, my friends, and my co-workers all call me, based on sexist opinions about ‘appropriate’ names,” Feldhaus said in a statement released by Lambda Legal.
The organization has now filed an appeal in the matter, alleging that Roper abused his discretion and engaged in unlawful discrimination by denying the name change.
“[T]here is simply no evidence that Appellant—who has no criminal record and is serving his country as a sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves—seeks to change his name for any fraudulent, improper or criminal purpose,” attorney Elizabeth Littrell wrote in filed court documents.
“But there is ample evidence that denying the name change imposes a significant burden on Appellant, exposes him to increased risks of violence and distress, and is contrary to his therapist’s course of treatment to alleviate symptoms associated with Gender Dysphoria,” she said.
According to local laws surrounding name changes, the new name cannot be obscene, racist or confusing to others.
Roper has not commented on the appeal, but some have sided with the judge.
“Bravo for Judge David Roper for standing up for righteousness,” one commenter wrote. “Sad how far America has slipped. And the judgment of God will be on us for allowing this perversion to continue.”
“The judge followed the law. People who want judges to rule by ideology instead of the law are a huge threat to society,” another remarked.
“Finally! A judge with some principles! And a spine! Let’s hope there are more out there!” a third said.