Take action on name change legislation: You can help advance House Bill 2542 through the Senate!

The 2022 Illinois Legislative Session has begun and we need your help to pass an important piece of legislation through the Senate. House Bill 2542, also known as the Name Change Modernization Bill, is vital for advancing health equity for transgender and nonbinary (TNB) people.

Illinois has one of the most restrictive name change laws in the nation. According to current law, people with felony convictions must wait 10 years after the conclusion of their sentence to change their name. Beyond this 10-year waiting period, Illinois is also one of just a handful of states that bans name changes for people on criminal registries and people convicted of identity theft.  In addition to these harsh restrictions, the current procedure for filing for a name change is antiquated, time-intensive, and costly—requiring a lot of paperwork, third-party witnesses, review by multiple agencies, and publication of the name change in a newspaper for three consecutive weeks.

The ability for TNB people to legally change their names to align with their identities is critical to their health and safety. Current law makes accessing IDs with correct names especially difficult for TNB people, who experience disproportionately high rates of incarceration and frequently seek name changes. This opens up TNB people to harassment and discrimination by potentially outing them in any situation where IDs would be used, such as accessing employment, housing, and healthcare.  In fact, the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey shows that 23% of the respondents experienced housing discrimination, including being evicted or being denied a home, because of their transgender identity. The overly restrictive name change law in Illinois only perpetuates the cycle of discrimination, income instability, and incarceration that results in health disparities affecting TNB communities, especially communities of color. Conversely, studies have shown that legal name change for TNB people can help improve economic stability and access to primary and transition-related care.

That is why it is critical to support HB 2542 to modernize the name change law in Illinois and advance health equity for TNB communities. This new bill repeals the 10-year waiting period, removes the lifetime ban for those with identity theft convictions, and gives discretion to judges to allow name changes for individuals who are on registries if they are seeking a name change due to gender identity, marriage, or human trafficking. HB 2542 also improves efficiency and increases transparency for the name change process, including expanded access to waivers to bypass the publication requirement. If this bill is passed, it will expand access to legal name change for TNB people, which in turn improves safety, economic stability, and health outcomes.

Contact your Senators and urge them to support the Name Change Bill.
If you would like to submit a letter of support, Equality Illinois has a great template

Questions? Would you like to learn more about getting involved?

Khadine Bennett, 312.607.3355, kbennett@aclu-il.org

Elizabeth Ricks, 773.347.7848, ericks@chicagohouse.org

Tags: Advocacy


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