Court of Appeals upholds ruling dismissing petition to change gender on birth certificate

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(IL file photo)

The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court’s decision dismissing a request by an inmate at the Pendleton Correctional Facility to have the gender on the inmate’s birth certificate changed to reflect the person’s identity as a transgender woman.

The three-member appellate panel ruled that the Madison Circuit Court did not err in issuing its decision because the inmate, Cory Wallace, did not submit “adequate documentary evidence” or evidence supporting that his petition was made in good faith and not for a fraudulent or unlawful purpose.

Wallace argued that living as transgender female in prison and being treated as s female under the Department of Correction’s  inclusive gender practices were the evidence for the birth certificate change.

Despite ruling against Wallace, the appeals court noted that the Legislature and the Indiana Supreme Court have provided little guidance on how to rule in such matters.

“Although we affirm the trial court today, we echo the sentiments expressed in In re O.J.G.S. that in the absence of any legislative amendment by the General Assembly or jurisprudential guidance by our supreme court, this court operates in a legal gray zone as evidenced by the shifting positions and divisions within this appellate court,” Judge Patricia Riley wrote. “Petitioners earnestly seeking a remedy deserve better.”

She opined that recent nuances in gender assignment put the Court of Appeals in a “legal gray zone,” unable to make consistent rulings because no legislation is in place to hinge decisions on.

Appeals judges Elaine Brown and Peter Foley concurred with separate opinions.

The case is In Re: The Name Change of Cory M. Wallace, 23A-MI-2206.

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