GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls LGBTQ+ Center will partner with attorney Meghan Sutton to host a free legal clinic for LGBTQ+ residents of Great Falls. It will begin at noon on Saturday, March 6th. One of the questions the Center continues to receive is how to access name and gender marker changes.
During Saturday's event, Center staff and Sutton will walk attendees through the process of filing name and gender marker changes for legal identification and documents.
The event is in response to the Great Falls City Commission's decision in September 2020 against adopting a non-discrimination ordinance for LGBTQ+ residents.
Naomi Simmons Thorne, LGBTQ+ Center Program coordinator, explained, "When we were listening in to community members around the time of the nondiscrimination order, that was one of the things we consistently heard, was that people on their jobs or trying to access public accommodations had difficulty because their employers or other co-workers wouldn't refer to them by their name or their pronouns."
"This is something that burdens a lot of people. This is something that bars people from going through their daily lives,” said Simmons Thorne. "If you don't have congruent documentation, it's one easier for people to identify you as transgender or gender non-conforming and discriminate against you in that way. Also, two, it's also difficult to get fair treatment when you're in the workplace or trying to access public accommodations."
Sutton said, "I certainly think, just personally just as a human being, that it was very disheartening that the commission last year kind of skirted the issue and refused to provide protection for those of us that need it the most."