The last we spoke to Salt Lake City teen Lex Rigby and his family, they were reeling from Lex having been denied a gender marker change to his birth certificate by a district judge.
Judge Bruce C. Lubeck, of the Third Judicial District Court in West Jordan, ruled that despite allowing the teen to change his name to Lex on his birth certificate he could not change his birth certificate to reflect his male identity. Lex and his family were surprised by the decision because other transgender Utahns had been able to make the change, and the state hadn’t opposed Lex’s request. What’s more, the family was horrified by some of the comments Judge Lubeck made during the hearing comparing the gender marker change to someone asking to change their name to “Hitler.”
Although the setback left the Rigbys hurt and confused, Lex’s parents, Sean and Chery Rigby, appealed the ruling on Lex’s behalf. But Judge Lubeck responded to the appeal and reaffirmed his initial decision. The family was prepared to take their case to the Utah Supreme Court but decided to wait while the requests of two other trans Utahns’ made their way to the state’s highest court. If they hadn’t waited, the cases could have been affected or delayed, according to the family’s lawyer Josh Peterman.
Peterman expects the state’s Supreme Court to rule in favor of the gender marker changes, with resulting clarification about what transgender Utahns like Lex must demonstrate to the court in when making their claims. The court may not rule for another year, but the Rigbys expect Judge Lubeck may retire by then (a notion that left Lex clapping).
In the meantime, Lex applied with the federal government for a new passport showing his name and gender identity. Within a month the application was approved practically without questions asked or extra legal costs paid. Lex should be able to use the federal document to get a new Utah driver’s license as well.
Lex also recently passed his one-year anniversary since starting testosterone treatment, a significant milestone toward feeling like his true self. As for the future, Lex plans to attend Salt Lake Community College this spring to study Japanese — a culture and language he loves. Sean hopes to take the whole family to Japan soon, and traveling should be much less stressful now that Lex’s passport matches his identity.
Still, it is difficult for the Rigbys to move on entirely without the resolution of his birth certificate. They hope to soon get a clean slate for Lex and can put the challenging experience with the courts behind them.