The Prisoner Justice Project is extremely excited to announce the launch of our new resource, Name Changes for Transgender Adults in New York State Prisons: A DIY Guide for Pro Se Name Changes.
This guide walks incarcerated transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex individuals through the name change process if they are 18 years old or older and are incarcerated in New York State. At every step, we have tried to provide explanations, templates, tips, and resources so that this process is a lot less daunting and a lot more accessible.
Each month, we hear from roughly 40 new writers who are incarcerated across the nation. Many of these writers are seeking to change their names. We hope this guide will help community members incarcerated across New York State to feel more comfortable beginning this process on their own. Many of SRLP’s members have pursued their own name changes, and we asked them to assist us in reviewing this guide.
One of our reviewers and Prisoner Advisory Committee (PAC) members, Terrianna Witherspoon, shared with us what it was like for her to change her own name:
“…my birth name was causing me a great deal of problems [so in 2005 I] filled out all of the paperwork, paid the money – which was not cheap – and gave them a reason for changing my name…The waiting process for a court date was the worst, almost a year. I was standing in front of the Judge though, and before you know it, I was Terrianna Witherspoon.”
Having her name legally changed while serving time in the New York State prisons has made a big difference to Ms. Witherspoon. Calling transgender individuals by their clearly incorrect names can be “a source of fun” for correctional officers. Yet for Ms. Witherspoon, she can point to her Inmate ID and see her correct name reflected.
As we wrote earlier this year, resourcing our communities is a form of resistance and we hope that this guide contributes to that resistance behind bars! Stay tuned for more updates from our Prisoner Justice Project as we look forward to launching additional resources, Self Care on the Inside and Solidarity in Action: A Prison Visiting Guide, in the next few months. Until then, check out all of SRLP’s resources and join us in celebrating our 15 years of resistance on May 15 at our Res15tance in Bloom gala.