How to Change Your Name and Gender Marker If You Are a Minor in California
If you're a minor in California who is in the process of a gender transition or identifies as transgender/non-binary/intersex/gender non-conforming, you may be wondering how to legally change your name and gender marker on important government documents. This overview will help you understand the general steps to change both in your state under California law.
Legal Name Changes for California Minors
To obtain a court-ordered name change in California, your legal parent or guardian will have to file the following documents in the superior court of the county where you live (as well as any additional legal documents your county might require):
- Petition for Change of Name (you sign this under penalty of perjury)
- Attachment to Petition for Change of Name
- Order to Show Cause for Change of Name to Conform to Gender Identity
- Civil Case Cover Sheet
- Supplemental Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (Declaration of Guardian) (if a legal guardian is filing)
- Decree Changing Name Form OR Decree Changing Name of Minor (By Guardian) (if a legal guardian is filing)
The court fee is $435, but you have the option to request a fee waiver if you can't afford it.
What If a Parent Doesn't Agree to Your Name Change?
You'll need at least one legal parent or guardian to file the application for you. If another parent/guardian doesn't agree to the name change, they will have an opportunity to disagree through what is called an "objection."
You will be required to give notice to any living parent who didn't sign your petition. If a parent disagrees with the name change, they can file an objection within 6 weeks of the date you filed your petition. The California court will set a hearing date and send you a notice with the date of your hearing.
If no one files an objection within the 6-week period, the court will grant your petition without a hearing.
What Happens After You Get a Court Order?
After obtaining a court order, you'll want to update your name on all your other government ID documents. You will start with the issuance of a new birth certificate. Other identity documents might include the following:
- Birth records
- Medical records
- Insurance identification card
- School records (including school ID card)
- Social Security card and other Social Security records
- Immigration and naturalization documents
- Driver's license/state ID (Make sure your name is updated with the Social Security Administration (SSA) prior to applying for a new driver's license/ID card with the Department of Motor Vehicles)
- U.S. passport (you can get a passport application at travel.state.gov)
Changing Your Gender Marker on Your California Driver's License/ID or Birth Certificate
In California, you can file an application to change both your name and gender marker at the same time. A court hearing will only be held if you are requesting a name change along with your gender marker change.
To change your gender marker on your driver's license/ID, you'll have to file a Gender Category Request form at the DMV (along with a court order if you're changing your name too). You'll have to pay a $30 fee, get your fingerprints scanned, and have your photo taken.
To get a change of gender on your California birth certificate, you'll have to file an Affidavit to Amend a Record in the Vital Records office of the California Department of Public Health. There's a $23 fee for your new birth certificate and a $25 fee for every additional certified copy you need.
You do not need a court order to change your gender on a driver's license/ID or birth certificate in California.
Is the “X" Gender Marker Available in California?
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 give you legal advice about the process of filing for a new name or a gender marker change in the State of California and help you determine what the best steps are to protect your privacy and safety throughout the process.
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.
Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney
Contact a qualified attorney.