This page has Harris-specific information on name & gender marker change.
Courts in Harris County can no longer grant gender marker changes, but may still be able to grant a request to change one's sex on a birth certificate. An individual appealed the denial of a gender marker change in 2016, and the denial was affirmed by the Fourteenth Court of Appeals. (See section below for details.) Accordingly, all courts in counties falling under the jurisdiction of the Fourteenth Court of Appeals are now bound to this precedent that prohibits these courts from issuing an order changing one's gender marker. The affected counties are: Austin; Brazoria; Chambers; Colorado; Fort Bend; Galveston; Grimes; Harris; Waller; and Washington.
In re Rocher
In 2016, a trans man named Alex Hunter appealed a denial of a gender marker change in Harris County to the Fourteenth Court of Appeals. In re Rocher, No. 14-15-00462-CV (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] Aug. 2, 2016) (no pet.).] The trial court determined that the Texas Family Code did not authorize Texas courts to issue orders changing one's gender marker. The Fourteenth Court of Appeals affirmed the denial, ruling that "none of the law Hunter cited to the trial court—Family Code sections 2.005 and 45.102, Araguz, and N.I.V.S.—authorized the court to make the ruling Hunter requested, i.e., a change of Hunter’s gender designation." Id. at *3. "Because Hunter has not established on appeal that the trial court erred in denying the request for a gender designation change, we overrule Hunter’s sole issue. We affirm the trial court's judgment." Id. at *5.
It is important to note that this decision was limited to gender markers, or what the appellate court called "gender designations." In fact, the Fourteenth Court of Appeals specifically addressed the issue of a request for a change of sex on a birth certificate. However, the court did not reach a conclusion on this issue as the appellant was not born in Texas:
- On appeal, Hunter additionally notes that Texas provides procedures for amending or correcting birth certificates. See Tex. Health & Safety Code §§ 191.028(b) (“An amending certificate may be filed to complete or correct a record that is incomplete or proved by satisfactory evidence to be inaccurate. The amendment must be in a form prescribed by the department.”); 192.011 (b) (“On the request of the person or the person’s legal representative, the state registrar, local registrar, or other person who issues birth certificates shall issue a birth certificate that incorporates the completed or corrected information instead of issuing a copy of the original or supplementary certificate with an amending certificate attached.”). Hunter acknowledges, however, that as a native of Pennsylvania, the Texas birth certificate provisions would not apply."::
Rocher at *4.
There have been reports that judges in Harris County are hostile to gender marker change.
"When a Houston Court of Appeals makes a decision that is directly on point, all district courts in Houston, including but not limited to family courts, are bound by that decision. It's similar to when the Supreme Court decided Obergefell, gay marriage become the law. The Houston Courts of Appeals are the 'Supreme Court' over the Houston district courts.
Someone appealed denial of a name change, resulting in a holding that there is no right to a gender marker change in Texas. But that decision only binds courts 'under' the Houston courts. For other courts, like in Austin or San Antonio, they can decline to follow that decision. Houston judges cannot."
Please list only judges that you know firsthand to be sympathetic/supportive to name and gender marker changes by transgender people.
- Nothing known yet.
- Nothing known yet.
- Nothing known yet.
Harris County, August 2, 2016
On August 2, 2016, the 14th Court of Appeals upheld a trial court's decision to deny a request for a gender designation change.
This is similar to another case where a petition for gender marker change denied by trials court and upheld on appeal, petitioner's counsel had asserted that Texas Family Code Section 2.005 (b)(8) authorizes Texas courts to render sex change orders that judicially change a person's gender identifier. See that case for details.