By Sasha Buchert, Staff Attorney
In 2013 Transgender Law Center co-sponsored AB 1121 (along with Equality California), a bill authored by California Assemblymember Toni Atkins. This new law will make legal name and gender changes more accessible in California. The first phase of this new law will go into effect on January 1, 2014, when transgender people born in California will be able to obtain a gender marker change on their birth certificate through a simpler administrative procedure rather than through a court order. (To change the name on a birth certificate, a certified copy of a court order granting the name change will still be required).
Under the old law, to change the gender marker on a California birth certificate, a transgender person had to first go through a lengthy and expensive process, including an in-person hearing in court, to get a court order recognizing their change of gender, before the state would update the gender marker on their birth certificate. Starting January 1, in order to change the gender marker on a California birth certificate, you’ll simply need to submit a declaration from a licensed physician (rather than a court ordered gender change) directly to the state’s Department of Vital Statistics. This will be particularly helpful for people born in California who currently live outside the state.
Effective January 1, to amend a gender marker on a California issued birth certificate, submit the following documents:
1. VS 24 Form: You must order the form from the Department of Vital Statistics
2. A $23 dollar fee (it will be raised from $20 to $23 in January, 2014). Fees should be paid by check or money order payable to CDPH Vital Records.
3. A photocopy of your current birth certificate.
4. An affidavit from a doctor attesting that you have undergone clinically appropriate treatment for gender transition. The law requires that the affidavit include the signature and license number of the physician. The affidavit does not need to be notarized.
The processing time for amendments can be located on the Department of Vital Statistics website.
The Department of Vital Statistics will be issuing a new “Gender Reassignment Pamphlet” before the end of the year that will be available here.
The second phase of AB 1121 will take effect on July 1, 2014, with a new streamlined process for obtaining a court-ordered legal name change in California. This part of the new law will eliminate the current requirement that transgender Californians publish a notice of their name change in a newspaper before they can obtain a court order granting the name change.
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