Last Friday, Schriver Law, Ltd. announced that attorney Andrew Schriver is now offering free name change services for members of the transgender community. The document preparation and legal services are free, with the filing fee as the only monetary requirement for those seeking services.
Schriver, a fairly new attorney, recognizes that his "newness" makes it difficult for him to do a lot of the pro bono work that he'd otherwise do in other areas like criminal defense, immigration or housing, but after assisting on his first name change and recognizing how smooth and easy the process is, he realized his services could be life-changing for some of the most marginalized citizens in Cuyahoga County.
"I really want to impress on anyone who is interested in getting a name change that, in Cuyahoga County at least, it's about the easiest legal procedure you could ever do," Schriver tells Scene
. "Any legal process is intimidating to people, often by design, so even though it's fairly straightforward, I figured that having an attorney would make it more likely for people to follow through and complete the process and get the services that they need."
An openly bisexual man himself, Schriver sees this as a good way to give back to his community.
"I think when people talk about LGBT issues they forget about the 'T' far too often and this is at least a small attempt to show solidarity, that we're all in this together and should support one another," he says.
Given how frequently people change their names due to marriage, it may seem like putting this much stake in a fairly common practice is unnecessary, but official and legally-recognized name changes are vital for transgender individuals.
"Not having to be deadnamed when you go to access government services or try to get insurance, for instance, or if you have to interact with the police, having the official name change makes a huge difference to people in a ton of ways," says Schriver.
We spoke to a transgender woman who wishes to keep her identity anonymous about the name-change process, and she agrees that having legal support can be extremely beneficial for trans people despite the name change process being relatively easy.
"I think interacting with the legal system in any way is exhausting for both cis and trans people, but the magistrate asked how my family was handling the name change, even though they don't ask cis people invasive questions about their reasons for name changes," she says.
Prices on legal costs for something like this varies from person to person, but Schriver estimates the hour or so of a lawyer's time to be somewhere around $150. The filing fee in Cuyahoga County for a name change is $137, meaning a trans person is saving more than half the cost of a name change by reaching out to Schriver.
"A few people have reached out to me and said they'd cover [the filing fee] for people who can't afford it," he says, "So anyone who reads this and doesn't have the $137 laying around should still reach out."
Since the announcement, Schriver has received a lot of positive feedback from both the community and other attorneys about his initiative.
"I think that most attorneys, like most of the population, are straight cis folks who maybe don't know that this is as big of a deal as it is, or just don't know the struggle that transgender folks face without access to simple logistical things like this," says Schriver. "All that said, I'd definitely welcome any other attorney who sees this and has the capacity to help to join in, the more hands and the more outreach the better."
Schriver Law, Ltd. can be reached by calling 330-242-0460 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org