SPRINGFIELD – A few minute ago, the Illinois Senate passed and sent to Governor House Bill 2542, a measure that repeals and amends restrictions and outdated provisions contained in Illinois’ name change law - one of the most restrictive in the nation. The current law creates yet another barrier for people living with felony records, and has an especially harmful impact on vulnerable communities who face mistreatment and identity based discrimination, including transgender and gender expansive individuals, survivors of human trafficking, and poor people of color who occupy one, or both, of those identities.

HB 2542 brings Illinois in line with other states around the nation. The following can be attributed to Khadine Bennett, Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs Director at the ACLU of Illinois:

Today’s vote is the result of years of hard work, in partnership with Chicago House, Transformative Justice Law Project, and those harmed by these laws, including brave champions such as Eisha Love, Reyna Oritz and Tania Cordova. The bill moves Illinois closer to a fair, modern system regarding the ability of transgender and gender expansive individuals, as well as survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence to change their names. Survivors of human trafficking and transgender people too often are at risk simply because they do not have identity documents that align with their authentic selves.  Survivors of trafficking and domestic violence, who may have criminal records because of their status as survivors, have been unable to get a fresh start safe from their abusers. This will be corrected when House Bill 2542 becomes law. 

In addition, transgender and gender expansive individuals impacted by this restrictive law have been involuntarily outed in ways that make them unsafe, forced to quit school and jobs, avoided going to the doctor and living with the fear and anxiety of moving through the world with a name that does not match their affirmed gender– all because of the inability to change a name. Today’s vote moves us one step closer to ending this harm.

With the Governor’s signature, the threat posed by daily interactions will be relived. This is good policy that increases safety for those who have been on the receiving end of these unnecessary and harmful laws. We applaud Senator Cunningham, Representative Cassidy, our allies at Chicago House, the Transformative Justice Law Project and dozens of affected individuals like Eisha, Reyna and Tania who worked so hard for this victory. We also thank the broad coalition of organizations and individuals throughout the state for their support and engagement in advancing this legislation that will change so many lives.