Do you need to change your legal name or gender marker? The exact process differs from state to state. However, the National Center for Transgender Equality has all the information and forms that you need to get started. And it’s easiest to e-file online. You do not have to e-file in your county of residence. If the National Center for Transgender Equality recommends a particular county in your state of residence, then you should e-file with that county. You don’t need an attorney. You can fill out the paperwork on your own. You can also request for filing fees to be waived.

The National Center for Transgender Equality’s website is kept up to date so you can trust the information you find there.

Step by Step Directions…

Go to the National Center for Transgender Equality. Click on Here’s a quick overview. The overview gives you a checklist to go by as you change your state and federal identification documents.

Now go back and click on Choose State/Territory. Select your state of residence from the drop down menu. Then scroll down to find all the information you need about changing your name, changing your gender marker, and then changing the information on your state identification documents. You will also find information about how to change the name and gender marker of a minor child.

Don’t be intimidated if your state requires a court order that “sex…has been changed by surgical procedure”. You can and will find a doctor who will write a letter for you. Search the Provider Directory on the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) site to find a doctor who is committed to caring for transgender and gender nonconforming people. For more information, check out the Rainbow Advice page about finding affirming medical care.

Your record of name or gender change will be a public record unless you ask the county clerk to file the record “under seal“. If the record is not “under seal”, then it can be accessed by normal means for things such as an employment background check. We suggest you ask about sealing the record to protect your privacy.

When you have your physician’s letter, court order, or new birth certificate you can begin changing your federal identification documents. Click on Federal IDs and Records. Choose from the drop down menu to learn about what is needed to change your U.S. passport, social security card, immigration documents, military records, or a birth certificate issued by a consulate.

 passports

Take a deep breath. You CAN do this! It is intimidating at first, but you will make it through. Just be honest. When a document asks why you want to make the change, be honest and write something like, “Name change will align with my gender identity.” or “Gender affirming name”. If you appear before a judge and are sworn in, you may be asked some questions. Again, be honest and respectful. Remember to address the judge as “Your Honor”. Also, be sure to dress nice and look neat for your court appearance. I watched as a local judge asked a man to tuck in his shirt!

If you need tech help or need a computer, reach out to your local library. You can print out the needed documents there. And many libraries loan out laptop computers. If you don’t have a printer that can scan documents for e-file, there are many free apps that will allow your phone to function as a scanner. If you e-file, you may not have to appear in court. An LGBTQ Center is always a good resource. Search Centerlink: The Community of LGBT Centers to find one (hopefully) near you. Even if a Pride Center isn’t close by, they are just a phone call away.

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