How To:Legally Change Your Name And Gender
Many transgender individuals choose to change their name and gender marker according to their gender identity.
These changes are then applied to their legal documents, such as their birth certificate, bank accounts, voter registration, and driver’s license. One can also apply it to identity documents, passports, visas, social security cards, and other government-issued identification documents.
Not all countries or states have laws that promote transgender equality or provide non-binary or transgender people with the ability to legally change their gender markers. However, one US state that does allow for such changes is California.
Requirements vary according to country and state of residence. Still, most gender reassignment surgery centers will provide an official document stating that you have undergone a surgical transition procedure.
In the United States, there are many documents (such as your passport) for which you don’t need to have undergone transitional surgery to change your name and gender marker. You would, however, need a letter proving that you have had ‘clinically appropriate treatment’ towards gender transition, which can refer to hormone therapy as well as surgery. You could, in other words, change your name and gender pre-op.
Under California law, to change the gender on your California driver’s license, passport, social security records, and have a new birth certificate issued reflecting these changes, you don’t need proof of a court-ordered gender change. However, if you were born outside of California, the case may be different for your Non-California birth certificate.
You will, however, need a specific court order for a legal name change. For example, you could change your gender without a court order via the State Registrar and get a court order to change your name separately.
To change your name and gender marker, you will need to do the following:
Name and Gender Marker
You will have to fill out the following court forms:
- Petition for Change of Name and Gender (NCC-200)
- Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (NC-110)
- Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (NC-220)
- Civil Case Cover Sheet (CM-010)
Some courts may request that you fill out other local forms, such as a criminal background information form. Be sure to make copies of all the forms.
Ask your physician to write an official affidavit declaring that you have undergone/are undergoing ‘appropriate clinical treatment’ towards gender change. Your doctor could do this by filling out the Declaration of Physician (NC-210) form or writing their own containing all the necessary information. However, keep in mind that this can only be done by your doctor- not by a nurse.
Have all your paperwork and forms reviewed by a family law facilitator that has worked with legal name and gender marker change.
Once checked, you can file your documents with the local court clerk. They should be filed in your county’s superior court. Your forms will be filed, stamped, and the copies returned to you. Once filed, you will receive the court date, time, and department of your court hearing.
There is a fee payable for the filing. If you cannot pay the fee for whatever reason, you may apply for a fee waiver.
On the day of your court hearing, take copies of all your papers. You will also need to take the Decree Changing Name and Gender (NC-230) form.
After the judge approves the request to change your name and gender marker, you will receive a signed decree, of which the court clerk will make a certified copy for you. Once this is done, you will need to change all your legal documents accordingly.
Gender Marker Only
The process of having only your legal gender marker changed is relatively similar to changing both your name and gender. However, there are a few minor differences regarding which forms you will need.
You will have to fill out the following forms:
- Petition for Change of Gender and Issuance of New Birth Certificate (NC-300)
- Setting of Hearing on the Petition for Change of Gender and Issuance of New Birth Certificate (NC-320)
- Civil Case Cover Sheet (CM-010)
As before, your physician will need to write an official affidavit declaring that you have undergone/are undergoing ‘appropriate clinical treatment.’ It can be done by filling out the Declaration of Physician — Attachment to Petition (NC-310) form or writing their own.
Have all your paperwork, forms, and legal documentation reviewed by a family law facilitator.
Once checked, have a court clerk file your documents in your country’s superior court. Ensure you receive the court date, time, and department of your court hearing.
You will need to pay a fee to have your documents filed. If you are unable to you may apply for a fee waiver.
Take copies of all your papers and vital records with you on the day of your hearing. You also need the Order for Change of Gender and Issuance of New Birth Certificate (NC-330) form.
After the judge approves the request, you will receive a signed decree, and the court clerk will make a certified copy. Afterward, you will need to change all your legal documents accordingly.
A Petition for Change of Name court order can take up to three months.
Once you have filed a petition, you will receive a court date within the next six to twelve weeks. You will have to follow all the required steps necessary, and your request will need to be approved in court before getting a decree.
You can often fill out the forms you need online. California Courts have their own official website, but other states or countries are likely to have something similar. Have your paperwork reviewed, and remember to make copies. Once checked, file your forms and federal documents with the local court clerk. You will have to pay the fee or request a waiver and then receive your court dates.
In some cases, you may be required to publish your Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (NC-120) form in a court-approved newspaper for a set amount of weeks. However, that usually only applies to those changing their name to conform to their gender identity. Also, keep in mind that a filing fee waiver does not apply to publishing costs.
Take proof of your published Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (NC-120) and the Decree Changing Name (NC-130) form with you to your hearing.
If all goes well, the court will approve your name change request, and you will be able to go ahead and apply the change to your appropriate documentation.
Name and Gender Marker Changes FAQs
How much will it cost to change my name or gender marker?
The filing fee to change your name or gender marker in California is around $450.
How long does the process take?
Unfortunately, the process for a change of gender or name is slow and can take months before it is complete. For example, the process can take up to three months in California.
How old do I need to be to change my name and gender legally?
The law will differ depending on where you live.
In the state of California, you must be of legal age- in other words, 18 years old or older. If not, you would require the permission of your legal guardian.
Should I change my name if I’m non-binary?
The decision to change your name, regardless of your gender identity, is entirely in your hands. Many non-binary people do change their names, and many don’t.
It all depends on your own preference.
What is a gender marker?
A gender marker indicates the gender you were assigned at birth that appears on your legal documents. Usually, it is either an M (male) or an F (female). However, in the case of someone who has legally changed their gender marker, their documents will reflect their gender identity. In other words, it will contain their correct gender marker.