Atkins Introduces Bill to Ease Name- and Gender-change Process for Transgender Prisoners

Toni Atkins

Toni Atkins

Sen. Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) announced today that she has introduced SB 310, legislation that establishes the right of people incarcerated in state prisons and county jails to access the court to obtain a name or gender change.

Currently, people incarcerated in state prisons seeking a court order for a name change or a name-and-gender change must first obtain approval from the warden of their facility, the Division of Adult Institutions Regional Administrator and a corrections case manager before they can even submit their petition. As a practical matter, this cumbersome and subjective process too often results in a person being denied access to the courts.

SB 310 guarantees that people who are incarcerated can submit their legal request for a name change or a name-and-gender change in the same manner as non-incarcerated people. This gives incarcerated transgender people the ability to match their legal identification with their gender identity, which gives them a sense of validation during incarceration and increases their chances for successful reentry into society.

“People who are incarcerated should have the same right as anyone else to legally change their name or gender and be recognized for who they are,” Atkins said. “SB 310 will simply ensure that incarcerated transgender people have equal access to the courts by removing the possibility for arbitrary or retaliatory denials.”

SB 310 also requires state prisons and county jails to use the new name of a person who obtains a name change and to only refer to the prior name as an alias.

Janetta Johnson, executive director of the Transgender, Gender-Variant, Intersex Justice Project, said, “This bill will help restore some amount of dignity to the transgender people who are currently locked up across the state of California. It is important, especially during this current political moment, that our folks inside prisons and jails can finally claim their name and gender as they are.”