In order to live safe, full, and authentic lives, it is essential that transgender people have access to identity documents, such as photo ID, that accurately reflect their current name, gender identity, and gender expression. However, many people are surprised to discover that there is no “one stop” process for getting a name and/or gender marker updated to match their gender identity on all documents. This is because each agency that issues identity documents has different requirements for changing name and gender markers, as well as a separate process for doing so. For example, changing the name and gender on a birth certificate does not ensure that it is also changed on a driver’s license. This means that a person has to contact each agency separately to change his or her documents. Through our helpline, we regularly provide callers information and resources needed to navigate the systems required to change all forms of ID documents.
In California, we sponsored AB 1121, a bill which streamlines the process of legally changing your name and gender, effective in 2014. Read more!
- California Identity Documents Fact Sheet
An overview of the identity documents that many transgender Californians change to better reflect their gender identity.
- ID Please
A Guide to Changing Your California and Federal Identity Documents to Match Your Gender Identity
This comprehensive guide will walk you through: going to court, changing your social security records, getting your new driver’s license or state ID, and fixing your immigration, passport, and birth certificate documents. It is meant to be a how-to guide to help you navigate the sometimes complex world of identification documents.
- F.A.Q: Vital Statistics Modernization Act
The Vital Statistics Modernization Act clarifies the documentation and residency requirements for obtaining a California court-ordered gender change.
- Links to CA court forms for people wanting to get state recognition of their change of name and/or gender
The California Judicial Council makes court forms available on-line. These forms can be used by anyone seeking to get court recognition of their change of name and/or gender.
Transgender Law Center advocates for laws and policies to increase access to identity documents that reflect a person’s current name and gender identity. In 2011, we worked to pass the Vital Statistics Modernization Act, which clarifies the documentation and residency requirements for obtaining a California court-ordered gender change. California law now requires that someone undergo “clinically appropriate treatment for the purposes of gender transition” in order to get a court ordered gender change and a new California birth certificate. In addition, the new law clarifies that both individuals born in California and individuals who currently reside in California may petition a California court for a gender change.
In California, we are currently working to pass AB 1121, a bill which would streamline the process of legally changing your name and gender. Read more!
Client Advocacy: Alex
“Alex” (not his real name) is an undocumented transgender man from Mexico who lives in San Francisco. In 2011 he came to our office seeking our help to legally change his name so that his immigration paperwork could be issued under his current masculine name. In 2012, thanks to the changes to California’s gender change law, we were also able to help him file for a court-ordered gender change. We helped him fill out the paperwork and explained to his doctor how to write a letter confirming that he had clinically appropriate treatment for gender transition.
As Alex told us, “Estoy muy agradecido y feliz por la ayuda de Transgender Law Center. Yo no habría sido capaz de cambiar mi nombre y el género legal sin ellos. Me solía sentir vergüenza cuando mi identificación no coincidía con mi género. Ahora me siento mucho más cómodo. Su ayuda se ha hecho una gran diferencia en mi vida.” (“I am so grateful and happy for the help of Transgender Law Center. I would not have been able to change my name and legal gender without them. I used to feel embarrassed when people saw that my ID didn’t match my gender. Now I feel much more comfortable. Their help has made a huge difference in my life.”)
Somers v. Superior Court
In a groundbreaking victory for transgender people born in California, the California Court of Appeal ruled on in April of 2009 that individuals can petition a California court to amend their California birth certificates regardless of their current states of residence. Previously, only current California residents could bring these petitions in California courts.
The case was brought by Transgender Law Center on behalf of Gigi Marie Somers. Ms. Somers, a sixty-seven year old transgender woman, was born in California and now lives in Kansas. Read More!
- Kansas Woman Sues State for Denying Her an Accurate Birth Certificate February 24, 2016
- Meagan Taylor, Black trans woman arrested and held in isolation, now free! July 22, 2015
- WATCH: John Oliver addresses transgender rights on Last Week Tonight June 29, 2015
- VICTORY! Marriages of Transgender People Ruled Valid by Courts in Arizona and California August 13, 2014
- Meet the Transgender Hobby Lobby Employee Fighting for Understanding and Equal Opportunities July 29, 2014
- Transgender Californians Celebrate Streamlined Name & Gender Changes July 1, 2014
- AB 1121 FAQ: California’s New Streamlined Process for Updating Name & Gender Documents July 1, 2014
- Progress: New York State modifies its outdated medical standard for amending birth certificates! June 5, 2014
- California’s Respect After Death Act Passes Assembly May 16, 2014
- Non-Binary Identities & the Law April 15, 2014