Legal Document Changes Guides and Resources

For personal testimonies from folks who have gone through these processes, check out our comment section below!

Centers and Projects

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF)

20 West 20th Street, New York City NY

646.862.9396

info@transgenderlegal.org

 

The Name Change Project

With roots at Garden of Peace and our own Michael David Battle, TLDEF’s Name Change Project connects low-income transgender people with attorneys in law firms and corporations who represent them in court-ordered legal name change proceedings in these areas:

 

  • Atlanta, Georgia   

  • Chicago, IL - Cook County

  • Detroit, MI - Wayne, Oakland and Washtenaw Counties

  • Milwaukee, WI - Milwaukee County

  • New Jersey - Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Middlesex Counties

  • New York City - All five boroughs/counties (New York, Kings, Queens, Richmond and Bronx)

  • Philadelphia, PA - Philadelphia County

  • Pittsburgh, PA - Allegheny County

Project PEACE

david.trevaskis@pabar.org

Passport

Federal Requirements to Change Gender:

You must apply using Form DS-11, unless you are replacing a limited-validity passport in your correct gender (see below). In addition to the regularly-required documents, submit the following:

  1. ID that resembles your current appearance

  2. Passport photo that resembles your current appearance

  3. A medical certification that indicates you are in the process of or have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition

  4. Proof of legal name change (if applicable)- For your passport to represent a current name change, make sure to submit proof of a legal name change.

Medical Certification:

A signed, original statement from a licensed physician must be on office letterhead and include:

  • Physician’s full name, address, and telephone number

  • Medical license or certificate number

  • Issuing state or other jurisdiction of medical license/certificate

  • Language stating that:

    • He or she has a doctor/patient relationship with you

    • He or she has treated you or has reviewed and evaluated your medical history

    • You have had, or are in process of having, appropriate clinical treatment for transition to the updated gender (male or female)

  • The statement must include, “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the forgoing is true and correct.”

  • Medical certification requirements are the same for a minor as an adult.

template medical certification is available for download here.

If you are still undergoing clinical treatment, you may be issued a Limited 2-Year Validity Passport:

To replace a limited-validity passport for a full validity passport, submit Form DS-5504 (at no additional cost). To use this form, you must apply within two years of your previous passport's issue date.

Submit the following:

  • Your limited passport book

  • Passport photo that resembles your current appearance

  • medical certification indicating you have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition

Description of specific treatments is not required. The certification from your physician is based on his or her judgment of your treatment needs.

Social Security

Gender Change

Social Security will accept any of the following forms of evidence for a gender marker change:

  • A U.S. passport showing the correct gender,

  • A birth certificate showing the correct gender,

  • A court order recognizing the correct gender, or

  • A signed letter from a provider confirming you have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition (see above for instructions and example of appropriate medical certification letters).

Name Change

You can change the name on your Social Security card and record by applying through the mail or in person at a local Social Security office. This can be done separately from, or together with, applying for a gender change. You will need to submit an Application for a Social Security Card, proof of your identity and citizenship or immigration status, as well as acceptable proof of the name change.
 
In general, SSA will accept any of the following as proof of a name change:

  • Name change court order (original or certified copy);

  • Marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership certificate (original or certified copy);

  • Divorce decree (original or certified copy); or,

  • Certificate of citizenship or naturalization (original only).

 

The new card will be sent to you in the mail, as will any original documents submitted with your application. 

 

Note: Marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership certificates showing a name change can be used so long as they are recognized by the issuing state. Locally-issued domestic partnership certificates not recognized by a state cannot be used for this purpose.

Pennsylvania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PA Legal Name Change

To obtain a legal name change in Pennsylvania, an applicant must submit a petition to the court. The applicant must publish notice of the hearing in two newspapers, but publication requirements can be waived and records can be sealed for the applicant’s safety. Individuals with a felony conviction may change their name if more than two years have passed since the end of the sentence and if not under probation or parole, or if the individual has been pardoned. Individuals who have been convicted of violent crimes are not eligible to change their name. Upon approval of the name change, the court will notify the Attorney General and the State Policy who keep the name change information in a central repository.

PA Driver's License

In order to update the name and/or gender on a Pennsylvania ID, the applicant must submit the following:

  1. form for change, correction, or replacement of an ID

  2. If changing the name, a court order certifying the name change (see above)

  3. If changing the gender marker, a form signed by a licensed provider certifying the applicant's gender identity as well 

A name and/or gender change form must be submitted in person at your local DMV. To find your public transportation options, click here.

Note: The DMV must abide by Title IX law, which requires that no person in the United States shall, on the grounds of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability be excluded from the participation. If you have a complaint due to your experience at a PA DMV, you may submit an official complaint with this form.

PA Birth Certificate

As of August 8, 2016, Pennsylvania Department of Health policy allows individuals to update the gender marker on their birth certificate with a letter from a physician stating that they have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. 

To apply for an amended birth certificate, applicants over the age of 18 should submit:

  1. The birth certificate with the requested changes on the reverse side, or if you don't have the birth certificate complete a Correction Form with the requested changes listed;

  2. An Application for Certified Copy of Birth Record;

  3. A copy of your government-issued photo ID that verifies legal name and mailing address (listed gender does not matter), or two other forms of identification;

  4. A check or money order for $20;

  5. A physician's statement on office letterhead saying that the applicant has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. You can use our Sample Physician Statement;

 

To apply for an amended birth certificate for individuals under the age of 18 a parent must complete the application, and no medical documentation is required. The parent must indicate which sex should appear on the birth certificate and sign in the presence of a notary - see the policy for specific instructions. 

Maryland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MD Legal Name Change

To obtain a legal name change in Maryland, an applicant must submit a petition to the court. The court will issue a docket notice and deadline for objections. The applicant must publish notice of the petition once in a county newspaper at least fifteen days before the objections deadline unless the court grants the petitioner’s motion to waive the publication requirement.

MD Driver's License

 

Name Change

In order to update the name on a Maryland license or ID, the applicant must first change their name with the Social Security Administration, and then bring an original or certified copy of the name change order to the MVA. Applicants must notify the MVA of a legal name change within 30 days of the name change. 

 

You'll need to bring:

  • Your Maryland driver's license, permit, or ID card.

  • Proof of your name change, such as:

    • Marriage certificate.

      • Marriage license must include an embossed seal and be signed by a clerk of the court.

    • Divorce decree.

    • Court-ordered name change.

  • Proof of age and identity (1 document), such as:

    • U.S. passport (valid and unexpired).

    • Certificate of Citizenship, form N-560 or N-561 (issued by DHS).

    • Permanent resident card, form I-551 (issued by DHS).

  • Proof of Social Security number or  ineligibility (1 document), such as:

    • Social Security card (original).

    • W-2 or 1099 form (not more than 18 months old).

  • Proof of U.S. lawful status (1 document) if applicable, such as a:

    • U.S. visa (expired/unexpired) with a foreign passport and I-94 (unexpired).

    • U.S. Department of Homeland Security documents.

  • Proof of Maryland residency (2 documents), such as:

  • Your parent or guardian (to sign the application), if you're under 18 years old.

NOTE: The MD MVA now recognizes court-certified, same-sex marriages (or civil unions) where jurisdiction allows them for name changes and vehicle titling.

Gender Change

In order to update the gender marker on a Maryland license or ID, the applicant must submit only ONE of the following documents in person at any MVA Branch Office:

  • Federal or state issued identification showing the requested gender designation;​

  • Court order showing the requested gender designation (original or certified copy);

  •  Birth certificate showing the requested gender designation; or

  • Authorization letter from the MVA's Driver Wellness and Safety Division signed by a physician and a mental health professional.

 

The Maryland MVA has additional information on gender marker designations on their website.

MD Birth Certificate

Effective October 1, 2015, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will update the gender marker on a certificate of birth upon receipt of certification from a licensed healthcare provider that the applicant has undergone surgical, hormonal, or other treatment appropriate for the purpose of sex transition. A new certificate of birth will be issued and will not be marked as amended. 

To apply for an updated birth certificate, an applicant should submit:

 

Submit application to:

Division of Vital Records
6550 Reisterstown Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21215

New York

 

 

 

 

 

 

NY Legal Name Change

To obtain a legal name change in New York, an applicant must submit a petition to the court. The applicant must publish notice at least once in a designated newspaper within 60 days of the court issued name change order. Individuals who have a felony conviction are subject to additional notice requirements. The publication requirement may be waived and the records may be sealed for the applicant’s safety, if approved by the court.

NY Driver's License

In order to update the name and/or gender on a New York State Driver's License or ID card, the applicant must submit the following:

  1. new application for an ID

  2. For a name change, a court order certifying the name change

  3. Proof of a sex change is a written statement from a physician, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist that is printed on letterhead. The statement must certify that one gender is your main gender (male or female).

There is a document fee of $12.50 to make this change. The DMV office issues a temporary document that does not have a photo. Your new photo document will arrive by mail in approximately 2 weeks.

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles addresses name changes here.

NY State Benefits Card

For information on changing your name and/or gender on a New York State Benefits card, see instructions on the Sylvia Rivera Law Project website.

NYC Municipal ID Card

If you live in New York City, the NYC Municipal ID Card is available and free regardless of immigration status, and the gender marker can be issued with three options: male, female, or no gender listed. You just mark on the application your desired gender designation and that’s your gender on the ID! See more information on how to apply on SRLP's website.

NY State Birth Certificate (see NYC below)

To amend the gender marker on a birth certificate from New York State, submit the following documents:

  1. Application for Correction of Certificate of Birth,

  2. Notarized Affidavit of Gender Error,

  3. Certified copy of the applicant's current birth certificate,

  4. Notarized affidavit from a physician (MD or DO), nurse practitioner, or physician assistant confirming that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition,

  5. If also requesting a name change, an original or certified copy of the court ordered name change, and

  6. Any applicable fees.

 

Applications should be submitted to:
New York State Department of Health
Director of Vital Records
Attention: Guy Warner
Personal and Confidential
800 North Pearl Street 2nd Floor
Albany, NY 12204

For more information see the gender designation change instructions from the NY Department of Health. If you have any questions, contact Guy Warner, Director, Bureau of Vital Records directly at (518) 474-5245 or email vr@health.state.ny.us.

NYC Birth Certificate

New York City issues birth certificates separately from New York State. To change the gender marker on a birth certificate from NYC, submit the following documents:

  1. A completed Birth Certificate Correction Application form;

  2. A signed and notarized Provider Affirmation/Affidavit of Gender Identity from one of the following US-licensed providers: Physician (MD or DO), Doctoral-level psychologist (PhD or PsyD in clinical or counseling psychology), Social worker (LMSW or LCSW), Physician assistant, Nurse practitioner, Marriage and family therapist, Mental health counselor, or Midwife;

  3. A Photocopy of current, signed, photo identification;

  4. If also applying for a name change on the birth certificate, an orginal court ordered name change; and

  5. A check or money order for $55 ($40 processing fee plus $15 fee for new certificate) made payable to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

 

Applications should be submitted to:

NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Office of Vital Records, Corrections Unit
125 Worth Street, Room 144, CN-4
New York, NY 10013
Attn: Edna Timbers

 

If you have any questions, please call 311 or email tgnyc@health.nyc.gov.

New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NJ Legal Name Change

To obtain a legal name change in New Jersey, an applicant must submit a petition to the court, including information about any convictions or pending charges. The applicant must publish notice of the petition once at least two weeks before the hearing date. After the judgment is issued, notice must be published in the newspaper and a copy of the judgment must be sent to the State Bureau of Identification. 

 

The New Jersey Courts provide instructions and forms for the name change process here.

 

See LeGal and NCTE's Name and Gender Change Guide for Residents of New Jersey for more detailed information on the process.

NJ Driver's License

In order to update name and/or gender on a New Jersey ID, the applicant must submit:

  • A court order certifying the name change, if requesting a change of name

  • form signed by a licensed provider certifying the applicant's gender identity, if requesting a change of gender marker.

Visit your local MVC office to obtain your updated New Jersey driver’s license or identification card.

NJ Birth Certificate

Updating your legal name on your birth record: You will need the following documents:

 A letter requesting that your birth certificate be amended to reflect your name change.

 Copy of your birth certificate.

 Certified copy of court order granting legal name change. (This will be returned to you by mail once your new birth record is processed.)

 A check of money order payable to Treasurer, State of New Jersey in the amount of $2.00 to process the legal name change. A certified copy of the updated birth certificate can be ordered for an additional $25.00 for the first copy and $2.00 for each additional copy.

 

Updating your gender on your birth record:

You will need the following documents:

 A letter requesting that your birth certificate be updated to accurately reflect your gender.

 Copy of your birth certificate.

 A medical certificate from your physician which indicates that your sex has been changed by a surgical procedure. The certificate may take the form of a letter on your physician’s letterhead, including the physician’s full name and license number, and indicate that your sex has been changed by surgical procedure. Your certificate should not have to specify the type of surgical procedure, as the statute just requires “surgical procedure.”

 A check of money order payable to Treasurer, State of New Jersey in the amount of $2.00 to process the legal gender change. A certified copy of the updated birth certificate can be ordered for an additional $25.00 for the first copy and $2.00 for each additional copy.

 

Mail Request(s) to:

Office of Vital Statistics

New Jersey Department of Health

Attn: – Record Modification Unit

PO Box 370

Trenton, NJ 08625-0370

 

If you mail the name and gender change requests together, only one $2.00 fee (plus $25.00 for the first certified copy and $2.00 each additional copy of your updated birth certificate) is required.

Ohio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OH Legal Name Change

To obtain a legal name change in Ohio, an applicant must submit a petition to the court. At least 30 days before the hearing, the applicant must publish notice of the hearing in a newspaper, though publication requirements can be waived for the applicant’s personal safety. Depending on the nature of the offense, applicants with prior criminal convictions may not be eligible for a name change.

OH Driver's License

In order to update the name and/or gender on an Ohio ID, an applicant must submit:

  1. If changing the name, a court order certifying the name change.

  2. If changing the gender marker, a Declaration of Gender Change form signed by a physician or psychologist/licensed therapist certifying the applicant's gender identity.

You must notify the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) of your name change in person at your local Ohio BMV office.

OH Birth Certificate

Ohio statute does not provide any guidance on updating the gender marker on a birth certificate. Currently, the Ohio Department of Health is refusing to issue birth certificates with updated gender markers, even when presented with a court order for gender change. 

In the past, the Ohio Department of Health was issuing updated birth certificates when presented with a court ordered gender change from another state. Generally speaking individuals have not been able to get a court order of gender change from an Ohio court, due to an old Ohio court decision stating that courts do not have the authority to issue such orders. To apply for an amended birth certificate applicants can submit the completed application for birth certificate, the court order ordering the change of sex (and name if applicable), and the associated fee to purchase the certificate.

West Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WV Legal Name Change

To obtain a legal name change in West Virginia, an applicant must submit a petition to the court. At least ten days before the hearing, the applicant must publish notice of the hearing time and place in a Class I legal advertisement. A certified copy of the order will be filed in the county clerk’s office. Individuals who are currently incarcerated or registered as sex offenders are not eligible to change their name. Individuals convicted of murder are not eligible to change their name until 10 years after discharge from prison or parole, whichever occurs later.

WV Driver's License

In order to update the name on a West Virginia ID, the applicant must submit a birth certificate or court order demonstrating the name change. In order to update the gender marker on a West Virginia ID, the applicant must submit a Gender Designation Form signed by a licensed physician. The West Virginia Department of Transportation addresses name and gender change here.

WV Birth Certificate

West Virginia will amend the gender marker on a birth certificate with a court order for gender change. The Vital Registration office will not issue a new birth certificate, but will strike through the existing name and gender on the birth certificate and type the new information above. The abstract/short form of the birth certificate will indicate that a change was made but will not show the previous name and gender.

 

In order to request an updated West Virginia birth certificate, the applicant should submit:

  • birth certificate request form

  • If requesting a name change, a certified court order for name change

  • ​If requesting a gender marker change, a court order for gender change from any state. If you have extenuating circumstances regarding this requirement, contact the state registrar at 304-558-2931.

  • ​Payment of any applicable fees

 

Send application to:

Vital Registration - Room 165
​350 Capitol Street
​Charleston, WV 25301-3701