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Whether driving, traveling out of the country or simply purchasing a drink, proper identification is a requirement in the United States that impacts many aspects of life. However, for the transgender community, once transitioning it’s often difficult to start the process of changing one’s name on all pertinent documents, and the process can often be time-consuming and even costly. Fair Michigan, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting for LGBTQ civil rights, is working to make that process easier with regular transgender name-change clinics.
“We rent space at Ruth Ellis Center, an LGBTQ drop-in center. We rent space Tuesday and Thursday to give all community (LGBTQ) the same resources usually offered, but with no age restrictions and also a name change clinic for trans people,” said Fair Michigan’s Director of Transgender Outreach and Advocacy Julisa Abad via email. “You have to make less than $22,000 a year and be 18 years old to qualify for name change with no active warrants. Dykema and Ford Motor Company donated lawyers pro bono to assist.”
Abad, who is transgender herself, said thatshe knows “the hardships my community faces to obtain correct accurate identification myself.” She added that Alanna Maguire, Fair Michigan’s president, has been working to create funding for future name-change clinics. The next clinic is in the works already, with plans to host it in late January or early February of 2020. Abad said she’s seen growth since the first clinic a few months ago.
“Our first one was a pilot with 4 people. This was actually our second one. Twenty people saw an attorney and officially started the process, and 25 came just to do their finger prints for the next round that will be taking place in late January and early February,” Abad said. “Since we had an officer here to do the fingerprints, we figured we would get that out of the way this first time around, which made the process easier and eliminates my community having to find a way there or the resources to even pay for this.”
To learn more about the name-changing process, Fair Michigan’s projects or how to contact Abad with questions visit fairmichigan.org.