East Texas court denies gender change, transgender woman says

East Texas court denies gender change, transgender woman says
(Source: KLTV staff)
(Source: KLTV staff)

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A transgender woman in East Texas says she was met with a judicial denial when she applied to have her gender changed officially from male to female.

Bobbi Ingram of Tyler filed a petition in Smith County court in March for a name change and gender change. Ingram, who was born male and began her transition to female two years ago, says it's about getting what's on the outside to match what's on the inside.

"Without your gender marker being changed to match who you are inside, then you feel incomplete," Ingram says. "When you go to a bank or institution of any kind, if it says you are male and you look female, nothing matches, it creates controversy.  You want things to be the same as they are for anyone else."

Last Thursday, Judge Jason Ellis granted Ingram's name change from Bobby to Bobbi.  However, on the gender change, Ingram says the judge asked her to return with evidence supporting her case.

"You must be under a doctor's care, that doctor has to issue a letter that you've been under transition and undergone procedures that are irreversible," said Ingram. "I presented documents, a Travis County gender change order that had been granted, and a 1999 case where a transgender woman was granted her female designation to receive her husband's effects [property]."

Ingram said after presenting her case, Ellis acknowledged that she had done her due diligence, but her request for a gender change was denied.

"I feel like I wasn't given a chance,"  Ingram says.

Texas law doesn't require a judge to grant a gender change request, and leaves it up to the discretion of the court.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Department of State Health Services requires a court order before a driver's license gender can be changed.

Ingram says with the denial in Smith County, she's left with no other option other than to try and file again in an outside county.

"To me it's kind of like if two people go to court for a divorce, the judge can decide if he wants to grant that divorce or not," says Ingram. "But since it's more commonplace, they do it."

Judge Ellis was not available Thursday for a comment on Ingram's case.

Ingram says she felt the judge was respectful to her request, but she wants things to be easier in the future for the next person in the county who needs a gender change.

"The government, the judicial system, everything is people my age who grew up with only two sides, male or female, Barbie dolls or Hot Wheels," Ingram says. "They're regimented in that thinking and they're not going to change."

Copyright 2016 KLTV. All rights reserved.