I hate to begin on a sour note, but you would have been living under a rock if had not heard about the discrimination and the violence our transgender citizens face on an almost daily basis. Even transgender citizens who work in professional settings, which are typically more progressive, deal with threats and discrimination. Not to mention the absolute terror a community member could feel if the police pull them over for speeding and their legal name says Bruce, but they present as Belinda.
Transgender citizens also experience significant relief both psychologically and physically when “society” acknowledges their true selves and a court grants the petition to change their names and gender markers. (By the way, the term “gender” was too ambiguous for the Texas Department of Public Safety, so we have to say gender / sex marker now in legal documents.)
There is really no downside to the relief a transgender citizen can feel when they get to live as their true selves. For me, as an attorney, helping transgender citizens with this process is truly rewarding. It is by far the most fulfilling work I do. So, how does this important thing get done?
The process is simple. In fact, there are just a few requirements. (1) Transgender person who wishes to file for a name change and gender change needs to obtain two letters. One letter from a therapist, and the other from a physician. The physician who prescribes hormones is usually an excellent choice for the physician’s letter. (2) Meet with an attorney who will help you prepare your petition and get it filed with the proper court. Your attorney will also prepare the court order that grants your name change and gender / sex change. (3) After the court’s clerk assigns a case number, obtain your fingerprint cards, and arrange for the criminal background check, which the Department of Public Safety will deliver directly to the Court for you. And (4) set your hearing date with the Court.
After the hearing in court, you will obtain three or four certified copies of the Court Order. You will use one copy to change your birth certificate (some states will not change your birth certificate though), one copy to change your driver’s license, and a third to modify your social security card. Oftentimes, you can get your diplomas changed and other important documents changed as well. You must tell your attorney what your goals are, and your attorney can help you persuade the court in many cases.
So, you are saying that sounds too easy, and it must cost a small fortune? There are some things that could prevent or delay a name and gender change. Those things include trying to hide from creditors and some, but not all criminal convictions. The convictions, do not themselves render the changes impossible. There are several factors a court will consider when deciding whether to issue the Order. No matter what your decision or who you use, it is important that you utilize an attorney to get you through the process with minimal bumps on the road.
Joseph “Jody” LaFleur, Esq.
Attorney and Counselor At Law