A transgender teen in Ohio may finally be able to legally go by his preferred name, eight months after a judge told him he lacked the “maturity, knowledge, and stability” to do so.
The 12th District Court of Appeals in Middleton, Ohio, overturned the decision by Warren County Probate Judge Joseph Kirby on March 4, calling it “arbitrary, unreasonable, unconscionable and based solely upon the transgender status of the applicant’s child,” according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The appeals court returned the case to Kirby for reconsideration.
The 15-year-old’s parents, Stephanie and Kylen Whitaker, applied for their son’s name change in April 2018.
The Whitakers said the teen, who was born female but identifies as male, realized he was transgender in 2017 and had started wearing boy clothes, court documents said.
The teen had received therapy at a mental health treatment center in Mason, Ohio, for about a year and was starting hormone therapy at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center when his parents filed for the name change.
The Whitakers, a therapist, and a doctor who specializes in treating transgender adolescents supported the name change in court documents.
The teen was already being called by his male-gendered name by friends and family, but his birth name was still on school documents and would be on future government IDs and college applications if his name was not changed legally.
His family argued that the name change would “help resolve some of the feelings of distress” that he faced when being called his birth name.
Judge Kirby denied the request in June 2018, saying that the teen lacked the “age, maturity, knowledge and stability” to make the decision to change his name.
“Whether [the teen] is experiencing Gender Dysphoria or is just not comfortable with [the teen’s] body is something that only time will reveal,” Kirby said at the time. “Is [the teen’s] distress brought about by confusion, peer pressure, or other non-transgender issues – or is it truly a mismatch between [the teen’s] gender identity and [the teen’s] body.”
The Whitakers claimed in their appeal that Kirby ignored mental health and medical professionals when he made the decision,according to the Associated Press.
“The parents undertook efforts to satisfy themselves that [their child’s] feelings about his gender identity were ‘real,’ and … were satisfied that [the teen] did not want the name change as part of a ‘fad,’ ‘trend,’ or ‘passing phase,'” the decision, also seen by The Enquirer, said.
The Whitakers appealed Kirby’s decision and it was overturned on March 4.
INSIDER has contacted the Whitaker family and Judge Kirby for comment.