FAQ: The Vital Statistics Modernization Act

AB 433 FAQ

The Vital Statistics Modernization Act clarifies the documentation and residency requirements for obtaining a California court-ordered gender change. This 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 addition, the Act changes the documentation standard for obtaining a legal gender change in California from “surgery that changes sex characteristics” to “clinically appropriate treatment for the purposes of gender transition.” 

Is it important that I get a court-ordered gender change?

Everyone’s identity document needs are different.   Getting a court-ordered gender change can go a long way towards helping a person establish their correct gender on their different identification documents. Also, there is no law requiring a person to change the gender marker on their I.D. or birth certificate if they don’t want to.  However, since every state and federal agency has its own rules governing gender change (and some states do not permit gender change to a birth certificate) it is possible that even with a California court order, a person will still have different gender markers on different forms of I.D. Also, there is no law requiring a person to change the gender marker on their I.D. or birth certificate if they don’t want to.  However, obtaining a court order is an excellent way to establish that you have legally changed your gender and that the State of California recognizes this change. This can be very useful if a person wishes to get married or in some employment and education situations.

Do I need a court order gender change to change my California state ID or drivers license?

No. In order to change the gender on your California state ID or driver’s license you must submit the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) form DL-329 requesting the change. You can pick up a copy of the form at any DMV location or on the Transgender Law Center’s website. The DL-329 form needs to be completed by a licensed California physician or psychologist. You do not need to have undergone any specific medical procedure to get your license or ID with the correct gender marker. Your physician simply has to confirm that you’re expressing your gender identity full-time.  If your psychologist completes the form, you will receive a license that is only good for five years, after which you will have to renew it and resubmit the DL-329 form.  *Please not you must obtain a court-ordered name change to change your name on your California state ID or driver’s license.

Obtaining a California Court-Ordered Gender Change

Which identity documents can I change with the California court-ordered gender change?

The new policy will allow you to change the following documents:

  • A California Birth Certificate
  • A birth certificate from another state (depending upon that state’s laws)[MD1]

How can I obtain a California court-ordered gender change?

Under the new policy, you can obtain a court ordered gender change by taking the following steps:

 

  •   Obtain and complete the proper court forms (Available on the California Courts website at:http://www.courts.ca.gov/1105.htm)
  •  Get a declaration from your physician certifying that you have undergone “appropriate  clinical treatment for gender transition”
  •   File forms and physician certification at your county courthouse and pay the fee (or apply for a fee waiver)
  • Receive your court hearing date
  •  Attend your court hearing date

Who can write a declaration to certify that an individual has had clinically appropriate treatment for gender transition?

You will need a declaration from any licensed physician with whom you have a doctor-patient relationship and who is familiar with your transition-related treatment.

Can a mental health professional write a declaration to certify that an individual has had clinically appropriate treatment for gender transition?

Generally no. The declaration must be written by a licensed physician.

What does the physician certification have to include?

The letter should include the doctor’s name, address, medical license number, and state that it is sworn on penalty of perjury of the laws of the State of California. It should also include a statement that the physician believes the patient has received appropriate clinical treatment to change their gender.

What is considered “appropriate clinical treatment”?

The Vital Statistics Modernization Act recognizes that different people have different medical needs, and that treatment options must be decided by healthcare professionals on an individual basis. You are entitled a legal gender change if you can establish that you have had clinical treatment that is determined by your healthcare provider to be appropriate, in your individual case, to facilitate gender transition. There is no one specific treatment that is required, and details of your treatment – including information about surgery, hormone treatment, or other treatments – do not need to be provided to the court in order to obtain the gender change order.

Can I get my name and gender changed at the same time?

Yes. Many people chose to petition the court for a legal name and gender change at the same time, through the same court order process.  Filing both petitions together reduces the cost of changing both name and gender because it requires paying only one filing fee. At the conclusion of the process, you will receive a single court order changing your name and gender.

Do I have to publish my name and gender change if I go through a combined court order process?

Yes and No! A person changing their name still has to publish a document called an “Order to Show Cause” in a court-approved newspaper in the county where they live, regardless of whether or not they are changing their gender.  If a person is petitioning for a combined name and gender change (or a separate gender change), they are not required to publish their legal gender change in the newspaper.

Additional FAQs

Can people in other states obtain a court-ordered gender change in California?

Individuals who currently live in California (regardless of where they were born), or who were born in California (regardless of where they now live), can petition for a California court-ordered gender change.

Can you change the gender marker on an out-of-state birth certificate with a California court ordered gender change?

Every state has its own legal process for changing the gender marker on a birth certificate. A California court-ordered gender change may be accepted by another state, depending upon the law of that state. You may want to check with the Department of Vital Statistics in the state where you were born to find out.

Where should I turn if I have more questions about undergoing a legal gender and/or gender change?

If you have questions about obtaining a California gender change court order, you can contact the Transgender Law Center at 415-865-0176.  If you have questions about the law regarding birth certificate changes in the state where you were born, you should contact the agency in that state that is responsible for birth certificates, typically the Department of Vital Statistics or Department of Public Health.