So you want to change your name as a transgender. Awesome! This is a big step to take in your transition. But before you go about getting it changed, there are various factors that you have to consider. Some states are easier, while other states are much harder. When it comes to changing your name, almost every state in the US is a relatively simple process. As far as changing your name to the one you feel comfortable with, it should not be any more difficult to get it changed than it would be if you were changing your surname after getting married.
When applying for a name change, you are going to have to answer a few basic questions, mainly to verify that your name change is not being done in order to commit fraud. Once you verify to the Judge that you have no intent to commit fraud – done with an assumption of good faith on your part by the Judge – then you pretty much have things through with. It is mostly a formality, so long as you do the forms to the letter. When you do go to your court date, you must also have two witnesses who will, under oath, swear that you are who you say you are and what your intentions for changing your name are in good faith.
While this article provides a general overview of name change laws in the United States, your state maybe has different regulations or provisions that may make it more difficult to get it done. For example, in states like Wisconsin, you have to publish your name change (usually for a fee) in a part of a newspaper.
Usually, however, it’s in a little-read area. There is, of course, worries that they will be denied, even if they make the common usage argument (which should be enough). This is almost always due to Judges having a personal opinion on trans people and the validity of their gender. There isn’t much to worry about though – as it is, never has something like this happen and, when taken to court, not been overturned. A state may have a law barring a name change that is… well, a little bit silly, like “Jesus Christ,” “Abraham Lincoln,” or “Queen Tyrannosaurus” (the last name actually sounds kind of great). So just, don’t toy with the process too much!
If you have any questions about specific laws of your state, be sure to look up name change documents and laws in your state. You should also make sure that you get every single form that you may need as part of this process, and if you do intend to change your gender, it may be worthwhile to do it at a later date. I tried to do both at the same time naively, and I wound up having both things delayed as a result.
This is a website that I have used to change my name and it has helped me out a lot (well, once I stopped flying by the seat of my pants anyway): ID Documents Center – National Center for Transgender Equality.
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