SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD) — A new law signed Friday will allow people with felony convictions to legally change their name after marriage, gender transition, or for their own safety, which they were not permitted to do in the past.

House Bill 2542, signed by Gov. JB Pritzker Friday, will repeal and amend parts of Illinois’ name change law to expand rights for qualifying individuals with previous felony convictions. Those qualified will now be able to legally change their name, which they were unable to do before.

The law states that those convicted of a felony and listed on a criminal registry–such as the sex offender registry, arsonist registry, etc.–may file for a legal name change if they verify under oath that the name change is due to marriage, religious beliefs, status as a victim of trafficking, or gender-related identity, as defined by the Illinois Human Rights Act.

A felon whose sentence has not been completed, terminated, or discharged is not allowed to file for a name change unless they are pardoned for their offense.

The ACLU of Illinois released a statement in support of the bill signing, citing the harmful impacts of the previous law who faced mistreatment or discrimination based on their inability to change their name.

This law will especially impact transgender and gender expansive individuals, survivors of human trafficking, and poor people of color who occupy one or both of those identities, according to the ACLU.

“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,” said Khadine Bennett, Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs Director at the ACLU of Illinois. “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. This is corrected under the new law.” 

“Threats posed by daily interactions now will be relieved,” said Bennett. “This is good policy that increases safety for those who have been on the receiving end of these unnecessary and harmful laws. We thank the Governor for taking this important action.” 

The full text of the new law can be found here. It will go into effect Jan. 1, 2024.