How to Change Your Name and Gender Marker If You Are a Minor
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed August 24, 2022
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Are you a minor — or the parent/guardian of a minor — who is in the process of a transitioning their gender identity or who identifies as non-binary/intersex/gender non-conforming? If so, you may want to know how to legally change your name and gender marker on your government documents. This overview will help you understand the general steps to change both in your state.
It is important to note that the steps for transgender people vary on a state-by-state basis and, in some states, a county-by-county basis.
To change your name and amend your driver's license/ID, follow the process in the state where you live.
To get an amended birth certificate, follow the process in the state where you were born.
To change your passport to reflect the correct sex designation, follow the process implemented by the federal government for name changes and gender markers, and make sure you have a legal parent/guardian helping you.
In some states, you can also change your gender marker at the same time as your name.
Change of Name
To obtain a court-ordered name change, you'll have to file an application in the state where you live. In most states, you'll need at least one parent/legal guardian to file the application. This application may go by different names, depending on where you are, but it is most commonly referred to as a petition for a change of name. You sign a supporting affidavit and other documents attesting to proof of identity under penalty of perjury, so you need to provide truthful information on the application.
You'll be required to pay a filing fee to the court clerk, but you have the option to request a fee waiver if you can't afford it. There may be a publication requirement and/or hearing requirement in your state, so you may want to ask if the requirements can be waived or request that your case be sealed if you have privacy or safety concerns. You may be able to use a P.O. box instead of providing an address as well.
Note: It is important to check whether your county has specific name change requirements for minors as laws and requirements vary by state.
What Happens After You Get a Court Order?
After obtaining a name change order from the probate court, you'll want to update your name on all your other government identification documents. As a minor, this most likely will include the following documents:
- Birth records and birth certificate
- Health care records
- School records and student identification card
- Social Security number and replacement Social Security card through the Social Security Administration (SSA) (Name Change/Gender Marker)
- Driver's license/state ID card
- Savings bonds
- Passport through the State Department (Form DS-11) (Name Change/Gender Marker)
Don't overlook other ID documents, however:
- Credit cards and bank accounts
- Savings bonds
- Immigration documents, such as a Certificate of Naturalization
- Health insurance and life insurance documents
- College investment accounts
- Social security records (e.g., beneficiary designations)
- Other legal documents (e.g., will beneficiary designations, insurance beneficiary designations, etc.)
A good rule of thumb is that you will need to update all accounts (including online accounts) with the new contact information. For some of these, you may need to pay applicable fees to replace your old name with your new name.
Changing Your Gender Marker on Your Driver's License/ID or Birth Certificate
To change your gender marker on your driver's license/ID, you'll have to file an application in the state where you live. The application will need to be filed in the agency in your state that handles driver's licensing and vehicle registration, usually the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This way, you can obtain identification documents that have the correct gender.
To change your gender marker on your birth certificate, you'll have to file an application in the state where you were born. The application will need to be filed in your state's Department of Health, usually in its Vital Records or Vital Statistics office.
In most states, you'll need at least one legal parent/guardian to file either application.
Some states require proof of change of sex surgery or other proof of appropriate clinical treatment and/or a court order to change your gender marker on your driver's license/ID or birth certificate.
Is the “X" Gender Marker Available in Your State?
Some states provide a non-binary “X" gender marker option; however, some states only allow the “X" gender marker on either driver's licenses/IDs or birth certificates but not both.
As of the date this article was written, the following states provide, or will provide, the “X" gender marker on driver's licenses:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
As of the date this article was published, the following states provide the “X" gender marker on birth certificates:
- Hawai'i (bill in session)
- Illinois (intersex option)
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
As of 2022, there is an "X" gender option on U.S. passport applications.
When to Contact an Attorney
While the articles in this section provide additional detail about the basics of changing your name and gender marker, it can be a wise decision to speak with a skilled LGBTQ+ law attorney near you.
A local attorney can guide you through the process of filing for a name or gender marker change in your state and help you determine what the best steps are to protect your privacy and safety throughout the process.
Also, the National Center for Transgender Equality is an advocacy organization that works to change restrictive state laws relating to transgender rights. They provide helpful information, including an FAQ page, if you are interested in how to have a legal name change or change your gender marker on behalf of a minor.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.