The Philadelphia Bar Association’s LGBT Rights Committee and the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association is hosting a pro bono Name Change Clinic on Saturday, April 9, 2022 from 11:00 AM-4:00 PM. The clinic will take place virtually via Zoom.
The clinic is open to transgender, gender non-conforming, persons of trans experience, and/or non-binary Philadelphia residents who are otherwise unable to access legal services in order to change their legal name. Prospective clients can sign up for a time to meet with a volunteer attorney, who will provide pro bono representation for a simple name change through the Philadelphia courts. The volunteer attorneys will also provide guidance for clients who may qualify from waivers to some of the court fees associated with a legal name change.
“For many members of the trans*, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming community, a legal name change is not merely a choice; it’s a necessity,” said Ian Evans, co-chair of the Bar Association’s LGBT Rights Committee. “Presenting identification documents that do not match an individual’s identity can lead to confusion, shaming, discrimination, harassment, and even violence.” This will be the Committee’s first virtual name change clinic, but Evans and Committee co-chair Andrew Slom are hoping to make it an annual event.
“Although some individuals may have the resources necessary to proceed through the process of getting their petition filed or hiring an attorney to complete it on their behalf, many members of our community often face barriers limiting access to a name change and the benefits that come with it,” Slom said. “The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania is a remarkably open and accessible venue for residents to process a legal name change petition, and helping members of the community take advantage of that openness has been a consistent goal of the LGBT Rights Committee."
Prospective clients for the April 9 clinic should submit an online intake form by Wednesday, April 6 to request an appointment. Clients must have copies of a photo ID, Social Security card, birth certificate, and a fingerprint card ready for their appointments in order for volunteer attorneys to submit their name change petitions. The IDs and birth certificate can be sent via email, but the fingerprint card must be the original copy.