In re McReynolds

Dallas Court of Appeals, No. 05‐15‐01254‐CV (October 11, 2016)

Justices Bridges, Lang-Miers, and Whitehill (Opinion)

The Dallas Court of Appeals affirmed denial of a request that a district court issue a “sex change order” to judicially “change [the] Petitioner’s gender identifier from female to male.” The appellate court’s decision rested entirely upon the statutory and procedural approaches chosen, and not chosen, by the Petitioner.

Petitioner alleged he was “transgendered by surgical reconstruction,” and asked the district court to issue an order changing his sex or gender “identifier” to reflect that. He relied exclusively on Family Code § 2.005(b)(8), which delineates the documents a county clerk may accept as proof of the age and identity of each applicant for a marriage license (even though petitioner was not attempting to apply for a marriage license). Specified among those documents is “a court order relating to the applicant’s name change or sex change ….” Petitioner argued this implicitly authorized Texas courts to issue such “sex change orders.”

The Court of Appeals disagreed. True, courts can issue “name change orders,” but Chapter 45 of the Family Code establishes a detailed procedure for doing so. By contrast, no Texas statute establishes a procedure for obtaining a “sex change order.” Other states, such as Oregon, do, and sex change orders from those other jurisdictions might fulfill the requirements of § 2.005(b)(8), such that the statute’s reference to such orders is not meaningless. But § 2.005(b)(8)’s mere mention of “sex change orders,” the Court held, does not provide authority for a Texas court to issue such orders.

All that said, the Court hinted at other avenues the Petitioner might pursue. For example, Petitioner had not filed a claim under the Declaratory Judgments Act. Nor had he invoked the administrative procedure established in Health & Safety Code § 191.028 for correcting or amending his birth certificate, one of the few concrete items of relief specified by the Petitioner. The efficacy or viability of these unpursued alternatives, however, was left for another day.