I know that there are some states, like Oregon, which are easing up on this. If you are transgender, or have been the victim of abuse or crime, you should be able to change your name in private. At the same time, are they trying to make it hard for us so that if we were trying to hide our tracks from the law, people would have a chance to object? I wouldn't want the whole world to know I was transgender, no way.

Why can we not do a thorough criminal and background check on every person who wants to have their name change, similar to what an employer or volunteer coordinator might do before hiring or allowing you to volunteer?

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    The 'why' of law is politics. – user4460 Feb 22 '18 at 17:40
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the question of motive for a law is politics. – Nij Feb 22 '18 at 18:34
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    There is politics to this, but the policy-related / law answer has to do with the fact that, while a criminal background check would certainly make sure you've never been convicted of a crime, that would not do anything about folks who were trying to slip away not from the government, but from, say, a creditor to whom a person owed a lot of money. It's probably properly labeled as anachronistic, as I'd assume this would be left over from times when just changing your name and riding your horse to the next town probably solved a bunch of problems. – A.fm. Feb 23 '18 at 0:00

Name-changing can facilitate escaping liability, so that e.g. if you are liable to someone for $20,000 and you change your name, you may be able to evade that liability. If a name change is made public, then others who have a legal claim against you are officially put on notice that Elmore James is now known as Lee Smith, and paperwork naming the respondent can be properly filled out. A criminal background check will not catch fact such as that you earlier caused damage to another person's property.

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