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Transgender legal issues

This site talks about the social, legal, and medical parts of a gender transition. For those who want to make a legal transition, these parts may help.

For non-US citizens

Please see my section on international transgender resources for applicable legal resources. I also have a section for foreign nationals residing in the United States.

For American citizens

You MUST make these legal changes to keep your basic rights.

Some people who did not do these changes had bad things happen to them. Some had their old name used in the news. Some had problems at their bank. Some were stopped from going to another country. A few even got sent to the wrong jail.

Take care of these legal things as soon as you are ready. They will help you later!

I recommend doing them in the following order:

Wills and power of attorney

  • Trans adults MUST have a will and power of attorney that says what they want to happen when they get sick or die. If you have one, your spouse or partner MUST do this, too. You should do this now and update it after you get a legal name change and or change your birth certificate.

Court Order For Name Change

Social Security

Driver’s License / State ID


  • All people in our community MUST get a valid passport with the correct name and gender. You will need this if you want to go outside your country of citizenship, but even if you do not plan to travel outside the country, you MUST get a passport now. It could be much harder in the future.

Birth certificate

  • Change your birth certificate as soon as you are allowed. The rule is based on the state where you were born. Each one is different.

Educational documents

  • Educational documents include high school or college transcripts and diplomas, licenses, certifications.


  • Summary of information on legal aspects of marriage for post-transition people.

Transgender prisoner resources

Summary of information for people held in legal custody.

Legal advocacy organizations

Transgender Law Center (

Advocates for Trans Equality (

  • Formed by a 2024 merger of:
  • Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (
  • National Center for Transgender Equality ( [archive]

Sylvia Rivera Law Project (

TGI Justice Project (

Trans Justice Funding Project (

Immigration Equality (


Historic legal advocacy organizations

Transgender Law and Policy Institute ( [archive]

Press for Change ( [archive]

Disclaimer: This is legal talk, not legal advice. Laws vary by jurisdiction and change often. Some of this may not apply to you. It is presented without warranty. It may contain errors or omissions. You must do your own research.