Johnson City man's path to having a name

Becky Campbell • Updated Aug 12, 2017 at 11:14 PM

Come Monday, it’ll be alright.

At least that’s what a New York native turned Tennessean is planning.

He’s always been known as Doug Battle, but according to his birth certificate, his name is B Twin Male. He has a Social Security card in the name of Doug Battle. He files his taxes as Doug Battle. He’s also applied for public assistance and obtained a voter’s registration card, again as Doug Battle.

But one thing he has been unable to obtain is a photo ID.

It seems that in Tennessee, you need several documents to prove you are who you say you are in order to get a legal photo ID. Battle has two — the Social Security card and voter’s registration — but he can’t get a copy of his birth certificate. There’s also the issue of its not having Battle’s name on it.

And it seems that in New York — and likely every other state — you have to have a photo ID to get your birth certificate.

“I can’t get a bank account, I can’t get a loan … it’s really a struggle,” he said last week as he dished up to-go orders at KenJo Market on South Roan Street.

Battle has been in a circle of frustration for a number of years, but a chance encounter at his job gave him a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Thank God for Mr. Pete and the lawyer,” Battle said, referring to Pete Paduch and attorney Guy Blackwell.

Paduch learned of Battle’s struggle when he overheard the man talking about being unable to get a photo ID. After Paduch heard the whole story, he stepped in to help but hit the same brick wall Battle had faced.

Paduch took the issue to Blackwell, who took the case pro bono.

“His history is real interesting …. how he’s tried to get his name straightened out and hadn’t been able to do it,” Blackwell said. “I told him I’d be happy to help and we’d go into Chancery Court here and get his name changed to what it has been forever.”

Blackwell filed a petition for a name change and to correct the error in the birth certificate in Washington County, where Battle has lived for nearly 30 years.

“We’re going to court Monday to get his name legally changed to be Douglas Battle,” he said. “That’s the name he’s used his whole life.”

After Battle and his twin brother were born, their mother didn’t name them right away. That led hospital staff to put A Twin and B Twin as the boys’ names. Battle’s mother never had the document corrected, but she did get him a Social Security number. That was apparently enough for Battle to do some things — like work and pay taxes — but it wasn’t enough for him to get an official identification card or driver’s license.

“He had to have photo ID to change his birth certificate, but to get the photo ID in Tennessee, you pretty much have to have your birth certificate,” Blackwell said.

Once there is a court order, which Chancellor John Rambo will likely sign Monday, Battle can move forward in the process to get his ID.

“Monday is a special thing for me,” Battle said. “I’m happy I’m finally going to be able to tell the truth. I really need a change of name from B Twin Male to Douglas Battle.”

Battle said Blackwell had already talked to the vital records office in New York as well, so the path would be clearer as he moves forward.

“This is wonderful for me. It’s gonna be alright,” he said.

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