ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- A local boy just celebrated his eighth birthday, and his family says the State of Missouri is denying him the only present he wanted.
The boy, who News 4 will call "Trevor" to keep his identity anonymous, is transgender and asked to have his name changed on his birth certificate, saying his old name doesn't reflect who he is now.
“Trans kids are normal kids,” his father said.
“He has tons of friends, he’s really engaged, he didn't used to be that way, he's very alive,” added his mother.
Trevor had given his parents indications over the years, always choosing to shop for clothes in the boys section, and pretending to have boys names when he played.
One day last year, he told them he was a boy, not a girl.
“The next day, he tried a boy day and there were no more girl days after that,” said Trevor's dad.
The name he chose for himself that day, his parents say, has stayed the same. They've been supportive ever since and so has pretty much everyone else.
“He's on a baseball team, his coaches use his preferred name,” his dad said.
But anything requiring a legal name is another story.
“Basically, anything with insurance, they can only find his by his old name, because that's his legal name, so I could see how uncomfortable he would get,” said Trevor’s mother.
When they told him about an option to change his name, he initially didn't seem interested. But this year, Trevor officially asked his parents for a legal name change, and did so in typical kid fashion.
“One day he said, ‘I think for my eighth birthday, I want to change my name,'" said his mom. "But he said, 'If I do that, I can still get other presents, too, right?’”
His parents learned of other children changing their names through what's known as a birth certificate correction, an administrative process available to children at the Missouri Bureau of Vital Records. However after submitting the paperwork, they learned Trevor's name change was rejected.
“This affidavit process is for people like my child. There was a mistake on his birth certificate and we are attempting to correct an error," his dad said. But he said the state responded by saying, "Well no, you are attempting to change your child's identity.”
When Trevor's parents asked for further explanation, they said the response didn’t make sense.
“All of their examples were to same gender names," said Trevor's father. "So they would say, 'You can use this to correct Jane to June and Cindy to Sandy, but you cannot use it to make the correction you're trying to make.'"
Trevor's plans for his birthday were put on hold.
“He has a suit he really likes to wear, so he was going to wear so he was going to put it on, walk out music, and he wanted his birth certificate framed,” his dad said.
“We were absolutely crushed,” added his mom.
“It’s heartbreaking for a child, some person who doesn't even know you can decide you can't have that for your birthday,” said Jordan Braxton, head of Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach at Pride St. Louis. “Yes, children know they are transgender. I knew for the longest time that I was a girl."
She says she, too, recently tried changing her name, but through the courts.
“When you get married, you just change your name, you know?” she said.
She says, instead, for trans people in Missouri, a legal name change in court is a difficult and sometimes costly process, requiring hoops like having to publish your name in the newspaper for three straight weeks.
“It’s very arduous and can be very triggering for some people who don't like to go to courtrooms, because most of the time it’s for a bad reason," said Braxton.
That's why these parents were hoping instead to use the birth certificate process that they say is available to other children, but not their own.
In fact, News 4 learned it's been done before.
Four years ago, Chris Althen used Missouri's birth certificate process to change his child's name.
“They did it in 20 minutes while I sat in the lobby,” he said. "There was no challenge in changing from a very masculine sounding name to a very feminine name for my child."
Althen has no idea why Trevor is being blocked now, but Trevor's parents think it's because it’s a different administration and a difference in attitude.
“I think the timing of when we sent in the affidavit and the anti-trans legislation is not a coincidence,” said Trevor’s mom.
But in a lengthy statement, a spokesperson for the State of Missouri denies there was any discrimination or even gray area in the process, saying they couldn't explain why one name change was allowed and one is not. They say a birth certificate correction is not intended to make legal name changes, but rather, the courts should do it, saying countless requests are denied for the same reasons.
The spokesperson wrote: "Virtually every case that is presented to the Bureau of Vital Records is unique in some way, and while the same state statutes and code of state regulations is utilized, what may appear externally to some as unequal application or treatment, is not the case."
Still, upset for their child, Trevor's parents say they feel like the state made an arbitrary and discriminatory decision.
“He just wants to live his life and be left alone and be called the name he has chosen for himself,” Trevor’s dad said.
They will now try to go through the official court process, but it will take a long time. They are committed, however, saying it's about preserving their son's mental health, allowing him to have a new legal name.
Those seeking resources on transgender name changes can click here.
For resources on medical care, click here.
More response from the State of Missouri:
"First, I want to share with you that this topic is complex but well-regulated in the Missouri Code of State Regulations (CSR). The first and most important concept to understand is that the Bureau of Vital Records does not issue legal name changes. The case you are referring to would require a legal name change and is outside the legal authority for the Bureau of Vital Records to determine or decree. The ability to change a person’s name resides with the circuit court in the county of the petitioner’s residence pursuant to 527.270, RSMo. Regarding corrections to records, the Bureau of Vital Records only corrects vital records to what they should have been through the correction affidavit process. Corrections and/or amendments outside of this or similar processes are only performed by the Bureau after the receipt of certified court order declaring the desired change.
Here is an example of a correction the bureau routinely performs through the correction affidavit process: Jane Doe’s birth certificate from 1990 had her last name spelled “Dow” instead of “Doe” and she submitted a notarized correction affidavit with supporting documentation authorizing the Bureau of Vital Records to make this change. If Jane, however, (regardless of the reason, i.e. transgender) wanted to change (not correct) her name to John, this would require a court order pursuant to RSMo 527.270. This is not to discriminate against any race, gender, or classification of individual. This statute and requirement applies to all individuals seeking a legal name change. This is to preserve the integrity and security of vital records and to ensure fraud, identity theft, avoidance of bills, debt, legal contracts, and other obligations are not forgone or other illicit activity can be conducted due to an unauthorized name change that does not go through the proper legal channels, public notice given, and officially processed by a court of law."