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Man Living as Woman Can Change Name

December 17, 1997

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A man who has lived as a woman for 22 years but can’t afford a sex-change operation won the right to legally change his name to Lisa.

Brian Harris was denied the name change by a county judge, but a three-judge panel of the Superior Court said other steps he has taken to change his appearance are enough.

``As Tammy Wynette so aptly observed, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. This is especially true″ in this case, Judge Peter Paul Olszewski wrote Thursday for the majority in the 2-1 ruling.

Harris, 39, filed for the name change last year, and his counselor said Harris frequently runs into problems because his driver’s license identifies him as a man.

Harris took estrogen and underwent surgery for breast implants and to feminize his face, but he couldn’t afford genital sex-change surgery, said his counselor, Dr. Constance Saunders.

Harris told Judge Gerard Long he has used the name Lisa socially for 22 years. He said taking the name legally would avoid confusing others and embarrassment when asked to produce identification.

Long denied Harris’ request, basing his ruling on a state Supreme Court decision that denied name changes for two other transsexuals who had received hormone therapy but not surgery to feminize their faces, torsos or genitalia.

Harris’ facial and breast operations make his case different, the Superior Court panel said.

``We believe that the better-reasoned approach is to require such a petitioner to demonstrate that he or she is permanently committed to living as a member of the opposite sex,″ Olszewski wrote.

The dissenting judge, Thomas Saylor, said allowing the name change ``would be to perpetuate a fiction, since the fact remains that petitioner is anatomically a male.″

According to directory assistance, no number exists for Brian Harris and Lisa Harris’ number in Johnstown is unlisted.

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