(WKBN) — June is known as pride month, a time for the LGBTQ+ community to look back at the progress that’s been made for equality.

It’s also a chance for advocates to point out barriers that still exist for the community. According to the ACLU, Ohio was the second to last state in the U.S. to allow people to legally change their gender markers. The court case Ray v McLoud made the change legal in December of 2020, but as one advocate explains the process varies for every one of Ohio’s 88 counties.

“Passport is easier. The passport has been doable for a long time,” said Equality Ohio legal director Maya Simek.

She helped to set up a legal clinic to assist the LGBTQ community.

“There are still some gray areas. How much it costs to do this. In terms of what evidence is required. In terms of how receptive the courts are, we are just seeing a lot of discrepancies across the state,” Simek said.

In Mahoning County, it costs $134 to file three different forms, then another $20 to publish an article on the name change in the daily legal news.

Trumbull County requires a $142 filing fee, a form that needs to be picked up from the courthouse and results from a BCI background check which costs between $25 and $55. Name changes are published in the Trumbull County legal newspaper.

In Columbiana County the filing fee is $87, requires three forms and a supplemental affidavit and the person has to publish the change in a general circulation newspaper like the Morning Journal or Salem News.

“Forcible outing of an individual’s gender identity is dangerous,” Simek said. Advocates fear this name publication could make trans people a target for hate crimes. “Forms that require notarization can be hard for people.”

General access to money, transportation or a doctor if a county requires medical proof can be an obstacle. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender survey report, transgender people are twice as likely to live in poverty as the general population.

But Simek said there’s some wiggle room if you’re living in a county that makes the process more difficult.
“You’re given three places in which to file — Where you’re living, where you were born or where your mom was living when you were born.”

This gender marker change only affects people who identify as male or female. There is no legal option in Ohio for people who identify as non-binary.