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.
For transgender Americans
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
- After writing a will, get a court order for name change. This will make other things easier to change.
Driver’s License / State ID
- Some US states let you get a driver’s license or state ID with your preferred name and gender, but this is not a legal change of name or sex. You need a court order for name change and an amended birth certificate for a legal change of sex.
- All transgender Americans MUST get a valid US passport with the correct name and gender. You will need this if you want to go outside the United States, but even if you do not plan to travel outside the US, you MUST get a passport now. It could be much harder in the future.
- 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 include high school or college transcripts and diplomas, licenses, certifications.
- Summary of information on legal aspects of marriage for post-transition people.
Legal advocacy organizations
Transgender Law Center (transgenderlawcenter.org)
Transgender Law and Policy Institute (transgenderlaw.org)
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (transgenderlegal.org)
Sylvia Rivera Law Project (srlp.org)
Press for Change (pfc.org.uk)
TGI Justice Project (tgijp.org)
Trans Justice Funding Project (transjusticefundingproject.org)
Immigration Equality (immigrationequality.org)