I initially began the process back in 2019. I went through what is called The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, The Name Change Project. Which is TLDEF's Name Change Project provides pro bono legal name change services to low-income transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people through partnerships with some of the nation’s most prestigious law firms and corporate law departments. For more information about them, feel free to visit their website at https://transgenderlegal.org/our-work/name-change-project/
I filled out an intake form and then I was connected here in Philadelphia with a law firm, BlankRome. In order for BlankRome to proceed with my case, I had to sign a consent and that consent is dated October 21, 2019, so that’s the date this process actually really began. I was connected with an actual attorney, Krystal Kane. Whom, I have to tell you was such a delight to work with.
I am originally from the state of Delaware so I had to send off for my birth certificate to be submitted to BlankRome. I also had to submit my photo ID and social security card.
Due to my chronic homelessness history, I had accumulated several citations for such things like loitering and trespassing. There was a point where Sarah, the forensic specialist from the team, had to go to court with me in support to get my record expunged.
In August 2020 I had to submit my fingerprints to BlankRome. As we proceeded in 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, May 6th, BlankRome petitioned the courts for my legal name change. (As I type this I begin to tear up.) After petitioning the courts myself and BlankRome learn that due to my chronic homelessness history, I owed the city of Philadelphia over $9,000.00 in court costs and fines. At this point, I became extremely discouraged in the process because I felt that this is absolutely ridiculous that I basically was being criminalized for being homeless, and one way or the other the City was going to try to hold me accountable for that.
Krystal Kane assured me that I’d be okay and I’d have nothing to worry about and when it was time for a hearing whether or not it be in person or on Zoom, Krystal would be there.
Let’s just fast forward to 2021 as we are still in the middle of a pandemic, I am still feeling a little discouraged, Miles, from my team, continues to provide me with emotional support, the courts are closed, but my petition was accepted into the courts for my legal name change.
I’ll never forget this magical moment right here as long as I live:
I didn’t have to walk into a courtroom and I also didn’t need to appear on Zoom.
It was Wednesday, May 12th, 2021, around 9:30 am, Krystal texts me and says, “guess what?” I say, “good morning beautiful.” She then says, “it’s a better morning for you, you are legally Kat!”
And so here we are!!!! And I’ve never been so grateful as I am now to proceed in life.