Gov. Greg Abbott, AG Ken Paxton sued over Texas name change law

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Greg Abbott_105578

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott arrives to the House Chamber to deliver his State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, in Austin, Texas. Abbott told lawmakers that roads, education and border security are the biggest issues facing Texans. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Human rights activists are serving a federal lawsuit to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday over a name change law that they claim is unfair to trans people in the criminal justice system.

The Austin Community Law Center made an announcement that the lawsuit would be served at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Governor’s office. Gov. Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton are named as defendants in the lawsuit. This story will be updated with their comments.

Three plaintiffs are named in the lawsuit that challenges Texas Family Code 45.103, which “prohibits people from legally changing their names to comport with their genders while they are incarcerated or on community supervision, and within two years of their release.”

All three plaintiffs are transgender and either currently or formerly incarcerated in federal prison.

“For most trans people, legal name change is seen as one of the most important aspects of gender affirmation,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit also said research shows that incarcerated trans people who are denied opportunities to change their name are “at substantially higher risk of depressive symptoms and suicide.” It also said trans people in the free world have “an increased risk of verbal and physical assault, as well as denial of services, housing and employment,” if they aren’t allowed to change gender identity documents.

In both scenarios, the lawsuit claims it’s cruel and unusual punishment, which is in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

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