A 31-year-old transgender man is challenging the Indiana law that prevents him from changing his first name to a male name that matches his gender identity, according to an ABC News report. Identified as “John Doe” in the suit, he was brought into Indiana illegally from Mexico at the age of 6 by his parents and was granted asylum by the U.S. government in 2013.


Demanding Proof of Citizenship

The suit alleges that Indiana’s law mandating anyone who is seeking a name change to provide proof of U.S. citizenship is a violation of the Constitution. The federal lawsuit goes further, claiming that because his driver’s license lists him as male but still lists his female name, he has been forced to disclose his private transgender identity to strangers causing embarrassment as well as fears of harassment and violence.


The male gender and female name on his driver’s license is a result of conflicting state and federal laws. When Doe was granted asylum, he was able to have all of his paperwork list him as male as a result of his diagnosis of gender dysphoria. He used these documents to obtain his Indiana driver’s license, but the state will not change his name without a court order.


There is only one other similar state law in the country, from North Dakota. The North Dakota law requires anyone seeking a name change to be a permanent citizen or a resident. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled several times that states are prohibited from treating U.S. citizens and permanent residents differently. Of note, individuals who seek and are granted asylum from the federal government are on track to getting permanent residency.


Transgender advocacy groups note that there is a growing number of foreign-born people from the LGBT community seeking U.S. asylum because of fears of persecution in their country of origin.


Legal Help

If you have experienced an issue with discrimination based on your LGBT status, you should contact a knowledgeable attorney right away. Do not try to fight this on your own – learn about your rights and obligations under state and federal laws.