Apr 7, 2023 - Politics

Inslee signs bill to let transgender people seal name-change records

Photo illustration of Washington Governor Jay Inslee with lines radiating from him.

Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

A new law in Washington state will let transgender people seal court records of their name changes, with a goal of preventing the files from being used to facilitate harassment.

Driving the news: Gov. Jay Inslee signed the measure into law Thursday, saying it would provide additional privacy to transgender people who change their names as part of their transition process.

Details: The new policy will let people who change their names because of their gender identity get the records sealed, meaning the records wouldn't be publicly accessible.

  • Right now under Washington law, that option is available only to domestic violence survivors who fear for their safety or their children's.

What they're saying: Maia Xiao, a graduate student at the University of Washington who changed her name in the state, told a state Senate committee earlier this year that a transgender friend of hers experienced extensive online harassment that involved people posting records over a name change.

  • Xiao wrote to state Sen. Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle) and asked him to look at ways to prevent that from happening to others.
  • During a Senate floor debate, Pedersen said the bill aims to help transgender people who want to leave their former identities behind.

The big picture: While some states have moved to restrict transgender people's ability to play youth sports or access gender-affirming care, Washington has been advancing policies that aim to provide protections to trans people.

Of note: The new law also will let asylum seekers, refugees and emancipated minors get records of their name changes sealed.


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