Wisconsin, Illinois sued over prohibition on name changes for persons required to register as sex offenders

May 1, 2019, 10:53 pm

Attorneys sued Wisconsin and Illinois Wednesday over laws that forbid transgender individuals from changing their names if they have certain criminal convictions.

Both federal lawsuits argue that the states are violating free speech rights and are preventing people from expressing how they identify themselves.

In Wisconsin, registered sex offenders are forbidden to change their names and face up to six years in prison if they do.

The plaintiff in the Wisconsin case was born Kenneth Krebs but has been going by Karen Krebs since she came out as transgender in 1999, the lawsuit states. She’s a registered sex offender because of a 1992 conviction and can’t change her name.

“This causes confusion and raises questions whenever Plaintiff applies for a job, interacts with medical professionals, or seeks to manage her personal finances,” the lawsuit states.

Krebs’ attorney, Adele Nicholas, said her client is not trying to hide her past or conceal her identity. In fact, Nicholas said Krebs reports herself to the sex offender registry as both Kenneth Krebs and Karen Krebs so people can find her. She would continue to use both names in the registry if she’s allowed to change her name, Nicholas said.

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