ACLU takes up name change case

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OKLAHOMA CITY-- While officials say 99 percent of all name change requests are approved in Oklahoma, one woman is fighting for her right to do just that.

Angela Ingram used to be known as James and has filed to have her name legally changed.

However, a judge denied that name change.

The American Civil Liberties Union is now taking up her case.

Her attorneys claim that name changes are usually denied because of a fraudulent purpose, but that was not the reason in this case. 

Brady Henderson says, "Fraud is only if someone is attempting to evade creditors and thinks that a change of name will do that. Or if someone has a warrant out for his or her arrest and is trying to hide from law enforcement."

He said, "We feel there is a larger issue to citizen rights. There is always tension between those who want to take rights away or expand the evasiveness of government and those who, in a sense, ultimately want to make sure that our freedoms are protected."

Attorney Brittany Novotny knows the importance of changing your name, not only as a transgender individual but also as an American citizen.

Novotny says, "It's a deeply personal journey. Being able to choose a name that matches your identity is just one of the key big moments in that transition. It allows you to get that documentation that matches who you are."

Judge Bill Graves did not want to comment on the issue but sent his ruling from a similar case where he denied another name change.

The ruling reads in part, "Based on scientific fact, it is my opinion that a person cannot change their sex or gender through sex change surgery."

He claims because of that fact, there was not a need for a name change.

Ingram and others believe she was denied because of a bias.

Novotny says, "They don't have to agree with the person's decision to transition genders but they at least have to agree with that person's right to change their name."