Changing your name and gender markers can be long, detailed, and sometimes tedious process.
There is no uniform, national process for those seeking name or gender marker changes on identity documents – instead, each state or federal agency, organization, and company may have different requirements to change your name and gender marker.
This can be frustrating, not to mention incredibly confusing. That’s why we’ve put together this list of frequently asked questions, to help you more easily navigate the system and update your documents.
Do I Need to Change My Documents in a Specific Order?
Technically, no, there’s no specific order you’re required to follow. However, for many people there is a sequence for updating identity documents that can streamline the process and make any updates you need to seek easier.
Here’s one approach to help you get the initial documents that should pave the way to make all other name and gender marker changes easier.
Please note: this is a suggested sequence and there may be different factors to take into account when pursuing a name and gender change, such as country or state of birth, as well as the county you live in.
Suggested Sequence for Changing Identity Documents
- Obtain a Court Ordered Name Change
- Obtain a Court Ordered Gender Change
- Change Name and Gender with Social Security Administration
- Change of Name and Gender with Oregon DMV
- If born in Oregon – Change name and gender on birth certificate
- Change Name and Gender on Passport
What if I was born outside of Oregon?
While this guide mostly provides resources for updating Oregon state IDs and documents, we understand that this process can be confusing if you’re living outside of your home state.
If you’re looking for resources outside of Oregon, the National Center for Transgender Equality website has an identification document center that provides information on process of changing your birth certificate in all 50 states. For more information, click here.
Can I Change My Documents Without a Court Order?
In some cases, yes. In Oregon it is now possible to update the gender on your driver’s license or state ID simply by filling out a form and paying a fee for a new ID card. We outline the steps involved in more detail later in this document.
There is also a new, simpler, administrative option for updating Oregon birth records, which allows transgender people born in the state to request a one-time gender and name change on their birth certificate without the need to go through the courts. (You may request to be listed as male, female, or non-binary.)
This new process offers a few major advantages:
- It’s less time-consuming than obtaining a court order.
- The cost to amend your birth records is low – all you need to do is submit a notarized document and a fee of $35.
- There’s no need for a doctor’s letter. As long as you certify that you’re making the change so that your birth record is in line with your gender identity, you qualify for this option.
However, when possible, we still advise following up with a court order, for several reasons:
- If you move to another state, there is no guarantee your gender change will be legally recognized outside of Oregon, particularly if your other documentation hasn’t also been updated.
- You will not be able to use your amended birth certificate alone to change some federal records, such as your passport.. Either a court order or doctor’s letter are still necessary to update most of these records. (The requirements are outlined in more detail below.)
- Updating your birth record alone does not change your name or gender on other vital records within the state.
- There will be no indication on your birth certificate that your listed gender has been amended, which may make it difficult to connect with other, existing documentation if you need to prove your identity.
So while the court process is more complex, if you plan to travel internationally or out of state, would like to be recognized by a new legal name, or would like to ensure all of your records match, a court order may be a better option for you.
What’s Required to Change My Name?
If changed through a court order, the process to legally change your name can take up to 8 weeks and often requires two trips to the county courthouse – a trip to file your petition for name change, and a trip to attend a hearing to change your name. It is possible to change your name and gender at the same time.
Here are the steps you will need to take:
- Visit your local county courthouse and ask to be directed to the family law clerk, who will help you locate the appropriate paperwork to file your name change. The Oregon Judicial Department’s Family Law Program does provide paperwork online here, but do take note that not all counties will accept and use the same paperwork. If you are using this paperwork, ask if this can be used in your own county.
- Each county should have a packet of documents for you to complete, and instructions on how to complete them, including the requirements to change your name. You will need to complete and file your paperwork with the clerk and post notice of the name change (location varies by county).
- Filing fees vary by county.
If you were not born in Oregon, do be mindful of the birth certificate requirements of your state of birth when filing your court order. Currently, Idaho, Tennessee, and Ohio do not provide means for transgender people to alter their birth certificates. Kansas has a process for changing the gender marker on a birth certificate, but their Department of Vital Records has no authority to do so.
What’s Required to Change the Gender Marker on My Driver’s License?
Now, any Oregonian can change their gender designation on their driver license and IDs by simply requesting a new or replacement ID. The form asks the applicant to select one of three gender markers they wish to have listed – M (male), F (female) or X (not specified).
In the past, those who wanted to change the sex on their ID needed a service provider or medical provider to sign the form. As of July 1st, 2017, individuals are now able to attest to their own gender identity.
Please note that you do not need to provide proof of surgery to have your name changed or a court ordered gender marker change. You are also eligible to receive a new photo when you apply to change your DMV gender marker.
As of July 2017, Oregon will begin issuing non-binary driver’s licenses and IDs. The state also plans to make this option available on birth certificates soon. We have created a detailed FAQ with more information on how to obtain a non-binary ID and what to expect when traveling or filling out paperwork — you can read it here.
Oregon’s Driver’s License Policy & Procedures
To update name and/or gender on an Oregon ID, the applicant must apply in person, turn in their current Oregon license, permit, or ID, and do the following:
- Submit an Application for a new ID;
- Pay the required fee;
- Provide a court order certifying the name change, if relevant.
- Select the gender they would like to have listed on their state ID.
- Take a new photograph at the DMV office. The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles addresses name change here. Applicants must notify the DMV of a legal name change within 30 days of the name change.
What Process Does Oregon Require to Change My Gender on My Birth Certificate?
In 2014, Oregon removed surgery requirements to get a gender marker changed on an Oregon birth certificate. And starting in 2018, there is a simplified, one-time option available that will allow those seeking a name and gender change to submit a simple form to the state, bypassing the need to go before a court.
There are now two different options available for those who would like to go through the process – you can now go through the old process of receiving a court order from a judge, or you can opt for the new “administrative option,” which allows for a one-time name and gender change through a simplified process. (Please review the questions above to learn more about the pros and cons of each method.)
Method 1: Obtain A Court Order
This process and the forms required can vary from county to county, so please check with your local courthouse for the exact details. However, generally, the process will be similar to what we’ve outlined below.
Individuals now can get a new birth certificate by getting a court order for gender change and submitting the order, a vital records order form, a signed statement of name change, and a fee to the Oregon Center for Health and Vital Statistics.
To get a court order for gender change in Oregon, you will need to apply at your local courthouse and bring a letter to the judge stating that you have “undergone surgical, hormonal, or other treatment appropriate for [you] for the purpose of gender transition and that sexual reassignment has been completed.” ORS 33.460.
For youth, undergoing appropriate treatment and completing gender transition may simply include a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, counseling support of gender transition, puberty blockers (depending on the individual’s age), and/or living in the gender they identify as.
The main elements that need to be in the letter are a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, documentation of appropriate treatment for the individual (which could just be counseling), and acknowledgment that the individual has completed gender transition. The full instructions to file a court order of a change of sex can be found here.
Please note: there have been some recent changes to this process and we have heard reports of people in some counties running into problems with the new statewide forms. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are encountering issues or have questions about applying for a name or gender marker change!
Method 2: The Administrative Option
Starting in January 2018, transgender people born in Oregon can now easily update their birth certificates by submitting an application to update their birth records with the Oregon Vital Records office.
This form costs only $35 to file, however, it can only be used to update the sex designation and name on the birth certificate once. Any future changes will have to be made via a court order, so be mindful of that if you use this option. The Vital Records office charges a $25 fee to provide a certified copy of all birth certificates.
You do not need a doctor’s letter to submit this form – the change is based solely on the applicant’s attestation of their own gender identity. You will, however, need to sign an affirmation statement in the presence of a notary and receive the notary’s signature and seal.
This option is also available for minors under the age of 18, though a parent on the birth record or legal guardian must make the request on the child’s behalf.
How Do I Change the Gender in My SSA Record?
To change your gender marker record on file with Social Security, you will need to submit one of the following:
- A U.S. passport showing the correct gender,
- A court order recognizing the correct gender,
- A birth certificate showing the correct gender, or
- A signed letter from a provider confirming you have had appropriate clinical treatment for
If you use a physician letter, there are very specific instructions and requirements to follow and they can be found by visiting National Center for Transgender Equality’s ID document center here.
How Do I Change My Passport to Reflect My New Gender Designation?
In June 2010, the State Department issued a new policy that makes it easier for transgender people to get a passport that affirms their correct gender identity.
Under the new policy, a transgender person can get an updated passport by submitting a certification from a physician confirming that they have undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. A physician certification is a letter from a licensed physician with whom you have a patient relationship, and who is familiar with your transgender health care history.
Now, a physician certification is required if all the documents you submit with your application (driver’s license, birth certificate etc.) do not document your gender. For full instructions see the National Center for Transgender Equality’s identity document center here.
Full text of the new policy: US State Department Foreign Affairs Manual, 7 FAM 300 Appendix M: Gender Change
National Passport Information Center; 1-877-487-2778
Passport adjudicators and consular officers must not ask for additional medical information from the applicant. The best way to submit this information is with an accompanying DS-5504 form, but if you have had a valid passport for longer than one year you may need to file a DS-82 form instead. Both of these forms are available online at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/forms.html.
Note that since the State Department’s change of regulations for passports, these requirements have changed slightly, and interpretation is new and varying. For an up-to-date guide on the new policy, read the National Center for Transgender Equality’s analysis at http://transequality.org/Issues/federal_documents.html#passport_gender.
Changing Gender or Name on Immigration Documents
The U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services issues a variety of documents that show identity and immigration status in the United States.
These include, but are not limited to, Employment Authorization Documents, Refugee Travel Documents, Permanent Resident Cards, and Naturalization Certificates. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows individuals to update the name and/or gender marker on immigration documents through the procedures described in detail at the National Center for Transgender Equality at www.transequality.org.