Transgender Woman Speaks Out After Name Change Battle

Wednesday, November 21st 2012, 9:58 pm
By: News 9

After spending thousands of dollars fighting the State of Oklahoma, a transgender woman is now allowed to change her name from Steven to Christie.

Last year, Oklahoma County District Court Judge Bill Graves denied the name change request citing the Bible instead of Oklahoma code. Now, the Civil Court of Appeals says Judge Graves abused his discretion, and it appears this is not the first time.

Christie Ann Harvey spent more than $18,000 in legal fees and says her life has been on hold for 16 months, until now.

"I'm doing absolutely wonderful," Harvey told News 9. "[I'm] happy to get the splendid news."

Harvey is recalling the moment she realized there was nothing easy about changing the name Steven to Christie in Judge Bill Graves' courtroom.

9/28/2012 Related Story: ACLU To Fight For Transgender OKC Woman Denied Name Change

"My attorney and I were just flabbergasted," Harvey said. "I mean, I was absolutely shocked. It was the last thing that I thought would happen."

Brittany Novotny, an Oklahoma City Attorney and a transgender woman, calls Judge Graves' decision a politically motivated stunt.

"The judge decided to insert his personal opinion into the matter and use his personal opinion as a basis for a ruling," Novotny said.

Court officials say Graves is out of town and was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

According to court records, Graves originally stated a person cannot change sex through surgery because DNA stays the same. Not long after Graves issued that opinion, Harvey was actually allowed to have the gender on her driver's license changed. However, the name Steven had to stay.

"The very state that says you can't have a female name because you can't be female, recognized me as female," Harvey said.

In an unanimous vote, the Court of Civil Appeals is ordering Judge Graves to grant the name change.

11/20/12 Related Story: Oklahoma Appeals Court Says Transgender Woman Can Change Name

"Not one of those [judges] thought that there was a legal leg to stand on," Novotny said.

Harvey says she is a conservative person and belongs to the Republican party, which is the same party Judge Graves served as a state representative prior to becoming a judge.

In August, Graves denied yet another transgender woman's name change request.