Transgender woman granted name change

Kendra Brill

WOODSTOCK – A transgender woman has won her fight in Shenandoah County Circuit Court for a name change that reflects her identity as a female.

Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp approved an order Friday granting the name change to Kendra Brill after twice rejecting it and leaving her to live with the legal name of William Jamison Forshee.

Brill, 36, of Strasburg, greeted the news with relief and satisfaction.

“I prayed, and I waited, and I got all the answers that I wanted,” Brill said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m glad it’s over, and now I can finally live my life. I feel I’m no longer in prison.”

Hupp’s decision ended an almost two-year legal battle in which he initially cited Brill’s felony record and concerns about planting confusion in the state’s criminal records as his reason for refusing to grant the name change

Hupp said in his latest decision that Brill had answered the objections in the last of two orders rejecting the name change.

“Since the entry of that order,” Hupp wrote, “the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has accepted the petitioner’s request for change of ‘gender indicator’ from male to female and has issued an identification card to the petitioner stating that the petitioner is a female. The name sought by the present petition is one that would be commonly understood to be that of a female, whereas the petitioner’s name is not. The clerk of this court is directed . . . to forward copies of this order and the petition to certain governmental agencies and a record trail for this name change shall be created thereby.”

Brill and her attorney, Alison R. W. Toepp of Richmond, argued that Brill needed the name change as an expression of her true self and to obtain important documents that accurately showed her female name.

“Gaining the requested name change will also end the discrimination, harassment and harm to the petitioner’s well-being that she faces because of the discrepancy between her female gender identity and expression and her male legal name,” Toepp wrote in a court document.

Brill’s felony conviction stems from a fourth drunken driving offense in Botetourt County and served more than a year in prison as a result. After her release, she was subsequently arrested and convicted on several misdemeanor charges, including one that resulted in a two-week sentence in the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail in July.

Brill was facing the possibility of more than three additional years in prison as a result of probation violations, but a judge in Botetourt County earlier this week agreed to extend her probation and imposed no jail sentence.
Brill said she is looking forward to obtaining an updated driver’s license and other legal documents bearing her new legal name.

The name change is all part of a fresh start of Brill, who said she has spent the last year “working hard on being sober and living my life as Kendra not as William.”

“I can’t stand hatred,” she added. “People should be allowed to live their own lives on this Earth as they know it.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com.