Judges Opinions Public Notices, — October 23, 2019 12:08 — 0 Comments

Public Notices, October 23, 2019

Volume 57, No. 12

 

PUBLIC NOTICES

DECEDENTS’ ESTATES

TRUST NOTICES

ORPHAN’S COURT DIVISION NOTICES

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

In the Matter of Petition for Change of Name of S.E.M. 2019-00715

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Letters Testamentary or of Administration have been granted in the following estates. All persons indebted to the said estate are required to make payment, and those having claims or demands to present the same without delay to the administrators or executors named.

 

FIRST PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF ROBERT F. KLICK, a/k/a, ROBERT FRANCIS KLICK, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Agatha M. Klick, Executrix

28 Arbor Drive

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Jonathan B. Batdorf, Esquire

317 East Lancaster Avenue

Shillington, PA 19607

 

ESTATE OF MARGUERITE L. SHUTTER, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Gina A. Wessner, Executrix

 

Harry W. Fenton, Esquire

809 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF MARY WARNER, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Sharon Frederickson, Co-Executrix

 

Bruce Frederickson, Co-Executor

 

Melanie Walz Scaringi, Esquire

Scaringi Law

2000 Linglestown Road, Suite 106

Harrisburg, PA 17110

 

ESTATE OF CONSTANCE J. NACE, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

 

Wendy J. Kozicki

685 Newberry Road

Middletown, PA 17057

 

John D. Enck, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore, & Enck, PC

522 S. 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

SECOND PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF BRYAN E. RITTLE, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administratrix.

 

Pamela J. Rittle, Administratrix

 

Mark W. Allshouse, Esquire

CHRISTIAN LAWYER SOLUTIONS, LLC

4833 Spring Road

Shermans Dale, PA 17090

 

ESTATE OF BERNICE C. BRANDT, late of the Borough of Myerstown, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Richard C. Clay

17 Katy Lane

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

ESTATE OF MICHAEL EZELL, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Jack Ezell, Administrator

1908 Carlton Drive

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Johnna J. Kopecky, Esquire

120 South Street

Harrisburg, PA 17101

 

ESTATE OF LUCILLE A. RUSSO, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Joel A. Russo, Executor

 

Hazen Law Group

2000 Linglestown Road

Suite 202

Harrisburg, PA 17110

 

ESTATE OF ALETHEA B. SHURSKIS a/k/a ALETHEA SHURSKIS, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Kathrine E. Mihalko, Executrix

206 Philips Drive

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Edward J. Coyle

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF PAUL W. HIBSHMAN, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Jill H. Rogers, Executrix

401 Carlisle Avenue

Prospect Park, PA 19076

 

John D. Enck, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore, & Enck, P.C.

522 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF E. PAUL WEAVER, III a/k/a ELMER PAUL WEAVER, III, late of Bethel Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Miriam I. Weaver, Executrix

 

  1. Elvin Kraybill, Esquire

Gibbel, Kraybill & Hess, LLP

P.O. Box 5349

Lancaster, PA 17606

 

THIRD PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF ROBERT D. GIUNTA, late of Millcreek Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

James Cherry, Executor

107 South Eight Street

North Wales, PA 19545

 

Jason J. Schibinger, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O Box 49

525 South Eight Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF DAVID H. MILLER, late of Swatara Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Cindy Royer, Executrix

506 Marion Street

Lititz, PA 17543

 

Edward J. Coyle, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Firm

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17072

 

ESTATE OF CAROL F. ARTZ, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Daryl L. Artz, Executor

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF ROY R. ROOT, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Edward P. Root, Jr., Executor

15 Circle Drive

Fredericksburg, PA 17026

 

Edward J. Coyle, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Firm

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17072

 

ESTATE OF HERMAN E. CARPENTER, late of West Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Administrators.

 

Fern Marley, Co-Administrator

 

Bonnie Swanger, Co-Administrator

 

Horace M. Ehrgood, Esquire

410 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF CRAIG D. SCHULZE, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Chad A. Schulze, Administrator

 

Horace M. Ehrgood, Esquire

410 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF RUTH M. COLDSMITH, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Personal Representatives.

 

Melanie S. Bellissimo, Personal Representative

 

Laurie J. Schwing, Personal Representative

Alexandra M. Sipe, Esquire

Maxwell Sipe Law Offices, LLC

20 East Sixth Street, Suite 301

Waynesboro, PA 17268

 

ESTATE OF CONNIE M. BUCKS, late of South Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Lee A. Bucks, Executor

1005 Challenge Drive

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Michael S. Bechtold, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF WILLIAM E. CUPELLI, late of City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Jordan E. Cupelli-Knight, Executor

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF DONALD PATRICK KERWICK, a/k/a DONALD P. KERWICK, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Jan B. Yupcavage, Executrix

951 Carriage House Court

Hershey, PA 17033

 

Paul J. Datte, Esquire

Cerullo, Datte & Burke, P.C.

450 West Market Street

P.O. Box 450

Pottsville, PA 17901

 

 

 

TRUST NOTICES

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT the Carlton E. McKinley Living Trust dated February 2, 1995, (the “Trust”), is being administered because of the death of Carlton E. McKinley, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, who died on July 24, 2019. All persons having claims against the Decedent or Trust are requested to present them for settlement, and all persons indebted to the Decedent or Trust are requested to make immediate payment without delay to:

 

Ronald E. McKinley, Trustee

Edward P. Seeber, Esquire

JSDC Law Offices

Suite C-400

555 Gettysburg Pike

Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

 

NOTICE OF THE DEATH OF Arthur L. Herring, late of North Annville Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Settlor of The Arthur L. Herring Revocable Living Trust, dated 3/17/1999 and amended 7/9/2010, is hereby given. All persons indebted to said Trust are requested to make prompt payment and those having claims to present the same, without delay to:

 

Brenda Kay Herring, Trustee

 

David A. Peckman, Esquire

Peckman Chait LLP

29 Mainland Road

Harleysville, PA 19438

 

 

ORPHAN’S COURT DIVISION NOTICES

 

Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County

Orphans’ Court

Division Notices

 

Notice is hereby given that the following accounts in decedents estates,

Guardianships and trusts have been filed in the Office of the Register of

Wills and Clerk of Orphans’ Court of Lebanon County, and that the same

will be presented to the Court of Common Pleas-Orphans’ Court Division of

said County for Confirmation NISI on

 

Monday, November 4, 2019 AT 10:00 A.M.

In Courtroom No. 1, Municipal Building, City of Lebanon

 

FIRST AND FINAL ACCOUNTS WITH PROPOSED SCHEDULE OF DISTRUBUTION FILED BY EXECUTORS OR ADMINISTRATORS

 

  1. Kreider, Michael D., aka Kreider, Michael Dennis, Dec’d. Jason M. Kreider, Exr., John D. Enck, Atty.

 

FIRST AND FINAL ACCOUNTS WITH NO PROPOSED SCHEDULE OF DISTRIBUTION FILED BY EXECUTORS OR ADMINISTRATORS

 

  1. Bowman, Mary Ellen, Dec’d., Edward F. Krause, Exr., Paul W. Kilgore, Atty.

 

All of the aforesaid accounts and statements of Proposed Distribution will be confirmed

ABSOLUTELY as of course by the said Orphans’ Court except those to which exemptions are filed within twenty (20) days after the same are confirmed NISI.

 

 

DAWN L. RESANOVICH

REGISTER OF WILLS AND CLERK OF ORPHANS’ COURT

LEBANON COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

 

 

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CIVIL ACTION – FAMILY DIVISION

 

 

In the Matter of Petition for                   :

Change of Name of S.E.M.                      :        2019-00715

 

 

ORDER OF COURT

 

 

AND NOW, this 23rd day of October, 2019, upon consideration of the Petition for Change of Name filed on behalf of S.E.M., and in accordance with the attached Opinion, the Court directs as follows:

  1. A hearing regarding the proposed change of name of S.E.M. is to be conducted on the 2nd day of December, 2019, at 1:30pm in Courtroom #3. Two (2) hours have been allotted for this hearing.
  2. Petitioner’s counsel is directed to serve by personal service a copy of this Opinion and Order upon the legal father of S.E.M. If any question exists about the identity of S.E.M.’s legal father, or if Petitioner believes that no “legal father” now exists, then service of this Opinion and Order shall be effectuated upon S.E.M.’s biological father.
  3. At the hearing scheduled in paragraph 1, the parties are directed to provide information and evidence as set forth in section III of the attached Opinion.

 

BY THE COURT,

                                                         

                                                   , J.

                                                          BRADFORD H. CHARLES

 

 

BHC/pmd

 

cc:     Bret Wiest, Esq.

Court Administration (order only)

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS OF LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CIVIL ACTION – FAMILY DIVISION

 

 

 

In the Matter of Petition for                   :

Change of Name of S.E.M.                      :        2019-00715

       

 

 

APPEARANCES:

 

Bret Wiest, Esq.                                       FOR PETITIONER

 

 

 

Opinion, Charles, J., October 23, 2019

 

Under what circumstances should a self-proclaimed but not medically-transformed underage transgender individual be legally entitled to a change of his/her name? This question implicates a plethora of legal, psychological, philosophical and practical considerations, especially when both of the child’s parents have not affirmatively approved the name change request. In an effort to procure guidance regarding the difficult issue now before this Court, we have undertaken a nationwide search for legal precedent and academic research papers regarding the implication of changing the name of a self-proclaimed underage transgender individual. For reasons we will articulate in more detail within the body of this Opinion, we will be scheduling another hearing to receive additional testimony within the rubric of a “best interest of the child” paradigm. Our goal is to use the vehicle of this Opinion to educate Petitioner about the nature of the information and testimony we will require in the hearing to be conducted regarding this novel issue.

 

  1. FACTS and PROCEDURAL HISTORY

S.E.M. is currently a biological female who resides with her mother here in Lebanon County. S.E.M. will be sixteen (16) years of age within the next thirty days. According to the petition now before this Court, the biological father of S.E.M. signed a “step-parent adoption petition” in 2016. However, the petition does not allege that any adoption occurred.

On May 2, 2019, S.E.M.‘s mother filed a Petition for Change of Name. The petition alleged that S.E.M. “dresses and grooms as a male and presents as a male.” The petition alleged that S.E.M. “is planning to pursue hormonal treatment to change her gender from female to male.” The name change petition requested that S.E.M.’s name be changed from one that is typically female to one that is more associated with the male gender.

A hearing was conducted on May 30, 2019. Information was presented at the time of the hearing regarding S.E.M.’s request. We heard that S.E.M. has been living, dressing and grooming as a male for at least the past eighteen (18) months. We heard that S.E.M. plans to relocate into a new school district and wishes to be known by a new male name within the new school district. In addition, S.E.M. will shortly be applying for a driver’s license. S.E.M. wishes to apply using a new male-typical name.

Because S.E.M. was a minor, because S.E.M.’s father did not consent to the name change, and because medical doctors have thus far refused to implement gender transformation procedures for hormone therapy, we solicited a legal brief from Petitioner. That brief was filed on June 28, 2019. However, it was not immediately forwarded to the undersigned by either Petitioner’s attorney or by the Prothonotary’s Office. This Court did not receive or consider the Petitioner’s Memorandum of Law until October of 2019.[1]

Upon receipt of the Petitioner’s Memorandum of Law, we endeavored to promptly analyze the issue now before this Court. Ultimately, we conclude that additional information will be needed and a second hearing will have to be conducted. We issue this Opinion to provide Petitioner with guidance with respect to what will be required with respect to the next hearing.

 

  1. DISCUSSION

In Pennsylvania, a change of name is governed by statute. See, 54 Pa.C.S.A. § 701 et sec. Generally speaking, “it shall be unlawful for any person to assume a name different from the name by which such person is or has been known, unless such change in name is made pursuant to proceedings in court…” 54 Pa.C.S.A. § 701. The statute requires that a hearing be conducted and that notice be given to “any non-petitioning parent of a child whose name may be affected by the proceedings.” 54 Pa.C.S.A. § 701 (a.1)(3)(ii)(B).

Pennsylvania’s name change statute does not establish criteria governing when a change of name should be effectuated. However, Pennsylvania’s highest Court has articulated a preference for a “liberal policy regarding change of name requests.” In RE Zachary Thomas Andrew Grimes, 609 A.2d 158, 160 (Pa. 1992). In the context of an adult transgender individual, Pennsylvania’s highest Court has declared that a change of name should be granted where all statutory requirements are met and where the name change is not sought for any fraudulent purpose. In RE Robert Henry McIntyre, 715 A.2d 400 (Pa. 1998). In McIntyre, the Court stated:

“We find that there is no public interest being protected by the denial of Appellant’s name change petition. The details surrounding Appellant’s quest for sex reassignment surgery are not a matter of governmental concern. As the name change statute and the procedures there under indicate a liberal policy regarding change of name requests, we see no reason to impose restrictions which the Legislature has not.”[2]

Id at page 403. (citation omitted)

This case involves the request to change the name of a minor. In addition, the petitioning child’s father has not approved of the name change. Moreover, the petitioning child’s doctors have thus far declined to effectuate hormonal therapy or gender transformation surgery. These factors require us to undertake a more comprehensive analysis of S.E.M.’s name change than we would have undertaken had S.E.M. been an adult.

There are no reported Pennsylvania decisions that have addressed the precise issue now before this Court. However, it is clear from decisional precedent that our decision cannot be governed by Pennsylvania’s Child Custody Act. See, T.W. v. D.A., 127 A.3d 826 (Pa. Super. 2015). On the other hand, our Commonwealth’s highest Court has clearly indicated that a “best interest of the child” analysis is very much implicated by any request to change a child’s name. See, In RE Change of Name of Zachary Thomas Andrew Grimes, 609 A.2d 158 (Pa. 1992).

Disputes over changes to a child’s name occur most frequently when mothers seeks to change the surnames of their children to that of a step-father. In such a context, our Superior Court has instructed that factors to be considered in a minor’s name change request include:

  • The extent of natural bonds between each parent and the child;
  • The social stigma and respect afforded to a particular name;
  • The age of the child;
  • Whether the child intellectually and rationally understands the significance of changing his or her name.

See, In Re Change of Name of EML to EMS, 19A.3d 1068 (Pa. Super. 2011). See also, In RE Change of Name of Kennedy, 18 Pa. D&C 4th 554 (1993); In RE Fink, 75 Pa. D&C 2d 234 (1976).

Because Pennsylvania is devoid of any Appellate or Common Pleas precedent regarding the precise issue now before the Court, we have expanded the scope of our research to include all State and Federal Courts within the United States. Our search disclosed two cases that factually align with the one at bar.

In Sacklow v. Betts, 163 A.3d 367 (N.J. Super. 2017), the mother of a sixteen (16) year old biological female moved to change the child’s name from “Veronica” to “Trevor” because the child wanted to identify as a male. The child’s father opposed this request. In Sacklow, Veronica/Trevor was in the process of receiving medical therapy to suppress menstruation and enhance testosterone. This medical process was undertaken through some court-approved process that was not specifically delineated within the Court’s Opinion.

The New Jersey Superior Court began its discussion by characterizing the name change request as “a novel one”. The Court stated that in the context of an adult transgender individual, a change of name would not be conditioned upon “proof of gender reassignment surgery.” The Court acknowledged the dilemma that is created when two parents who share legal custody disagree about the proposed name change. Ultimately, the New Jersey Court analyzed the issue using a “best interest of the child” standard. In applying the “best interest” standard, the Court identified the following factors:

  • The age of the child;
  • The length of time the child has used the proposed name;
  • The potential anxiety, embarrassment or discomfort that would result from using a name that does not match an outward appearance;
  • The history of medical or mental health counseling the child has received;
  • Whether the child’s family and community utilize the child’s preferred name;
  • The child’s preference and motivation for seeking the name change;
  • The parent’s support or opposition to the name change, and their motivation for such support of opposition.

In addition to the above factors, the Court articulated what it described as “public policy considerations”:

“A name change sends an important message to the world, a message solidified and made official with a Court’s approval. Our state ‘has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.’ Recognizing the importance of a name change is one of the ways to help protect the well-being of a transgender minor child. This name change allows the transgender minor child to begin to fully transition into their chosen gender and possibly prevent them from facing harassment and embarrassment from being forced to use a legal name that may no longer match his or her gender identity.”

Id at page at page 73.

Having articulated all of the above, the New Jersey Superior Court concluded:

“Experts emphasize that it is very important to transgender youth to have their gender recognized and validated. Allison S. Bohm et al, 17th Annual Review of Gender and Sexuality Law: Annual Review Article: Challenges Facing LGBT Youth, 17 GEO.J. Gender L.125, 140 (2016). Trevor has undergone hormone therapy and presents as a young man with facial hair, a muscular build, a headful of male-textured hair, and a deeper voice. To force him to legally keep the feminine name “Veronica” would not be in his best interest. Therefore, Plaintiff’s motion to legally change Veronica’s name to Trevor is granted.”

Id at page 374.

 

In the case of In RE Matter of: Change of Name of H.C.W., 123 N.E. 3d 1048 (Ohio Court of Appeals 2019), an intermediate Appellate Court in Ohio reached the same conclusion as Sacklow. In H.C.W., the Court applied the same exact factors as were listed in Sacklow to assess whether a female-born child should receive a male name. The child in H.C.W. was fifteen (15) and had presented as a boy for several years. Both the mother and father consented to the change of name. Despite this consent, a County Probate Judge denied H.C.W.’s request because the Court felt that a 15-year old “lacks the age, maturity, knowledge and stability to make this decision.” The Ohio Appellate Court reversed the trial judge’s decision and stated: “The Probate Court’s fixation upon H.C.W.’s maturity to express a meaningful preference resulted in its failure to consider other significant factors relating to H.C.W’s best interest.” Id at page 1054. The Appellate Court emphasized the parents’ agreement that the name should be changed and stated:

“Instead of giving “some special weight” to H.C.W.’s parents’ preferences regarding the name change, the Probate Court summarily dismissed them. In its sole reference to the parents’ preferences, the Probate Court discounted them as simply a “desire to assuage their child.” However, in contrast to “assuaging” H.C.W.’s preference to change his name, the record plainly shows that the parents engaged a therapist specializing in transgender issues, kept H.C.W. in therapy for a year, consulted with the therapist, consulted with Dr. Conrad of the Children’s Hospital concerning testosterone therapy, associated with a support group, and had extensive discussions among themselves before seeking the name change. The parents undertook efforts to satisfy themselves that H.C.W.’s feelings about his gender identity were “real” and based upon all of the foregoing, were satisfied that H.C.W. did not want the name change as part of a “fad”, “trend” or “passing phase”. The Probate Court erred in failing to consider the parents’ assessment of H.C.W.’s best interest and accord that assessment some special weight when it ruled upon the name change application.”

Id at page 1055.

 

Based in part upon the above analysis, the Trial Court’s decision was reversed and the request to change H.C.W.’s name was granted.

We will afford significant persuasive weight to the reasoning articulated in both Sacklow and H.C.W. Still, we are constrained to recognize that neither Sacklow nor H.C.W. are binding precedent, and both involved slightly different facts from the case now before us. Because Sacklow and H.C.W. are not binding precedent, because of the absence of gender modification medical treatment, and because the issue now before us implicates questions that transcend a strict legal analysis, we have also undertaken a review of academic research regarding gender transformation of underage individuals. A summary of what we learned is set forth below:

  • According to the American College of Pediatricians, the “psychological condition in which children experience a marked incongruence between their experienced gender and the gender associated with their biological sex” is called Gender Dysphoria. (“GD”). See, Gender Identity Issues in Children and Adolescents, American College of Pediatrics located at acpeds.org . GD is included in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The diagnosis is characterized by at least six (6) of the following:
  • A strong desire to be of the other gender or an insistence that one is the other gender;
  • A strong preference for wearing clothes typical of the opposite gender;
  • A strong preference for cross-gender roles in make-believe play or fantasy play;
  • A strong preference for the toys, games or activities stereotypically used or engaged in by the other gender;
  • A strong preference for playmates of the other gender;
  • A strong rejection of toys, games and activities typical of one’s assigned gender;
  • A strong dislike of one’s sexual anatomy;
  • A strong desire for the physical sex characteristics that match one’s experienced gender.”

 

  • According to a research study published by the National Institute of Health, “Virtually nothing is known regarding adolescent-onset GD, its progression and factors that influence the completion of the developmental tasks of adolescence among young people with GD and/or transgender identity…We still do not know enough about how gender identity and gender variance actually evolve…There is little research on how GD and/or transgender identity are associated with completion of developmental tasks of adolescence.” See, Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino, Hannah Bergman, and Louise Frisen, Gender Dysphoria in Adolescents: Current Perspectives, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health Medicine and Therapeutics, 2018: 9:31-41 and published at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov .
  • Forty to forty-five percent (40-45%) of GD adolescents experience psychiatric comorbidity, which can be debilitating at times. “The most commonly reporting disorders are depression and anxiety. Self-harm and suicidal ideation/behavior are also common…” In addition, adolescents with GD are 4.5 times more likely to experience social isolation and bullying than are other adolescents. See, Gender Dysphoria in Adolescents, Supra.
  • In an article published for the on-line publication “Science-Based Medicine”, Dr. Harriet Hall summarized longitudinal studies regarding GD. Dr. Hall stated: “There are twelve such studies in all, and they all come to the very same conclusion: The majority of kids cease to feel transgender when they get older.” She wrote:

“The state of the science is made clear simply by listing the results of the studies on the topic. Despite coming from a variety of countries and from a variety of labs, using a variety of methods, all spanning four decades, every single study without exception has come to the identical conclusion. This is not a matter of scientists disagreeing with one another over relative strengths and weaknesses across a set of conflicting reports. The disagreement is not even some people advocating for one set of studies with other people advocating for a different set of studies. Rather, activists are rejecting the unanimous conclusion of every single study ever conducted on the question in favor of a conclusion supported by not one…

 

The politically correct stance is to encourage, affirm and assist the child in “coming out” as transgender. But this may not always be the wisest course. We don’t know what will happen over the next twenty years, yet we are herding parents and children in one direction as if we knew.”

See, Hall, Harriet: Gender Dysphoria in Children, Science-Based Medicine (September 11, 2018) found at www.sciencebasedmedicine.org .

 

  • According to an article published in the International Journal of Transgenderism, there are significant differences in therapeutically addressing GD among adolescents and adults. This research study acknowledged that “Gender Dysphoria during childhood does not inevitably continue into adulthood.” However, the article also concludes that “The persistence of Gender Dysphoria into adulthood appears to be much higher for adolescents.” In establishing a “standard of care” for adolescents who exhibit GD, the article suggests that an extensive “assessment phase” be undertaken so that parents and adolescents can know “the possibilities and limitations of different treatments.” The article also recommends “fully reversible interventions” for teens with GD. With respect to “irreversible interventions”, the article concludes: “Genital surgery should not be carried out until (1) patients reach the legal age of majority to give consent…and (2) patients have lived continuously for at least twelve months in the gender role that is congruent with their gender identity.” The article also chronicles significant risks that accompany the withholding of all therapeutic intervention for GD adolescents.

See, Eli Coleman, Walter Bockting, Marsha Botzer and Peggy Cohen-Kettenis, Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming People, International Journal of Transgenderism (August 2012).[3]

From the above, we reach several conclusions. They are:

  • Probably because transgenderism has only become a part of the public lexicon within this century, there are very few long-term research studies to guide the scientific community in diagnosing and treating adolescent GD. As one author put it, “We do not know what will happen in twenty years.”
  • A significant percentage of GD children eventually claim the gender of their birth. In part because of this, the general “standard of care” for GD adolescents strongly disfavors “irreversible interventions.”
  • There is significant comorbidity for GD adolescents. Left unaddressed, this comorbidity can cause life-altering – or even life-ending – problems. “Reversible intervention” is almost a necessity when treating GD adolescents.

Reading all of the above articles regarding adolescent GD afforded this Court with respect and appreciation for the dilemma faced by doctors and psychologists who are struggling to decide on a course of treatment for a self-proclaimed adolescent transgender individual. Reading these articles also gave us a healthy sense of perspective. Under any definition of the phrase, the change of an adolescent’s name must be characterized as a “fully reversible intervention”. Unlike gender alteration surgery or even hormone therapy, the change of a name can be relatively simply and easily reversed without any long-term physical implication. Given this context, and given Pennsylvania’s liberal approach to name changes, we will certainly afford a sympathetic ear to the request of S.E.M. for a change of name. That being said, the above research also leads us to conclude that additional work needs to be accomplished before any final decision can be made regarding S.E.M.’s request for a name change.

 

III.     CONCLUSION

It is obvious that changing the name of an underage applicant is a process that cannot be blithely undertaken. Having discovered how courts such as Sacklow and H.C.W. addressed the issue, and having reviewed and evaluated the research-based proclamations of medical and psychological experts, we quickly came to realize that the record in this case is woefully inadequate to support any decision. Therefore, we will be scheduling another hearing to receive additional information and evidence regarding S.E.M.’s name change request.

So that we can render a final decision as promptly as possible, we wish to advise Petitioner of our expectations for the hearing to be scheduled pursuant to this Opinion. Our expectations are as follows:

  • Pennsylvania law requires that both parents be given notice of any hearing that implicates a child’s change of name. As a result, Petitioner’s counsel will have to provide notice of the upcoming hearing by personal service to the legal father of S.E.M.[4]
  • If S.E.M.’s legal father opposes the name change request, we will need to hear and analyze the father’s motivation and reasoning for his opposition.
  • The test articulated in Sacklow and C.W. is viscerally appealing. The test seems to capture the important areas of inquiry implicated by the type of name change request that is now before the Court. Accordingly, we will adopt the test used in Sacklow and H.C.W. and we ask Petitioner to provide information and evidence that answers all seven (7) of the questions posed by the Sacklow test.
  • Because the medical and psychiatric community is divided about the question of whether or when gender transformation should be undertaken, we need to conduct a more comprehensive inquiry of S.E.M. to determine the degree to which S.E.M. understands all of the implications of gender transformation.

Provided that all of the information articulated above is presented to us at the next hearing, and provided that no additional surprises are thrown at us, we anticipate that we will be able to render a final decision regarding this name change request immediately following the hearing that will be scheduled via this Court Order. We are well aware that Petitioner would have liked a more prompt decision, but we hope that Petitioner understands our desire to be thorough when addressing a novel issue such as the one presented by this litigation.

An Order to effectuate the provisions of this Opinion will be entered today’s date.

 

 

 

[1] Although we wish we would have received the Brief earlier, we are glad we did eventually receive it; it was comprehensive, well-written and helpful.

[2] In a different context, our Superior Court strongly disapproved of a Trial Court’s “policy” against approving a change of a gay couple’s surname and stated:

“We, as judges, have no monopoly on wisdom, no heightened discernment into the public mind and no right to impose personal views or values on the citizenry of this Commonwealth…If we look to the actions of our Legislature and the decisions of our Supreme Court, we discern no basis for declining a name change that would enable an applicant to adopt the surname of the applicant’s partner.”

In Re Miller, 824 A.2d 1207, 1213-1214 (Pa. Super. 2003).

 

[3] This article was quoted liberally in Petitioner’s Brief.

[4] We confess to a certain amount of confusion regarding the identity of S.E.M.’s “legal” father. As we understand it, S.E.M.’s biological father signed some sort of consent to adoption under the laws of a state other than Pennsylvania. However, we received no evidence that an adoption actually occurred. If the adoption did occur, then the adopting father is now the “legal” parent of S.E.M. and he must be given the notice. If the adoption did not occur, then we will require Petitioner to afford notice to S.E.M’s biological father.

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