A bill sent to Gov. J.B. Pritzker would lift restrictions on Illinois residents who can’t change their names because of past crimes.
Supporters say the legislation would especially help people who are transgender or have been victims of human trafficking.
“We were really focused on the folks who, it’s a need, it’s like a life-or-death need, because of fears of abusive partners or their trafficker finding them again,” Khadine Bennett of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois told the Chicago Tribune.
Under current law, there’s a lifetime ban on name changes for people who have been convicted of identity theft or who are on state registries for certain crimes. Others convicted of crimes can face a 10-year waiting period to change a name.
A judge would make the final decision on a name change with input from a local prosecutor under a bill that has cleared the General Assembly.
A transgender woman, Reyna Ortiz, said she has been unable to formally change her name to match her identity because of a past identity-fraud conviction. Her driver’s license still has a man’s name.
“There’s so many trans women walking around with IDs that don’t match their gender identity and that opens us up to various degrees of systemic discrimination,” Ortiz said.