Washington state transgender resources

Youth

Gender Diversity (genderdiversity.org)

Seattle Children’s Hospital (seattlechildrens.org)

Resources

Ingersoll Gender Center (ingersollgendercenter.org)

Gender Justice League (genderjusticeleague.org)

King County Trans Resource & Referral Guide (kctransguide.org)

Gender Alliance of the South Sound (southsoundgender.com)

Washington Gender Alliance (washingtongenderalliance.com)

World Professional Association of Transgender Health (wpath.org)

Legal

National Center for Transgender Equality (transequality.org)

Human Rights Campaign (hrc.org)

Williams Institute (williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu)

Start by gathering a few initial forms:

  1. A name change petition (link for adult)
    1. On this petition there will be a reason for name change, a great option is “It more accurately represents who I am”
  2. A Social Security Name Change Request Form (link)
    1. On this form in box 8, mark your correct sex, not the one assigned at birth
  3. Change of Gender Designation Request for the Dept. of Licensing (link)
  4. An Application for US Passport, if applicable (link)
    1. You need an application for a new passport, not renewal, regardless of if your current passport is valid or not; because you’re changing information

Ok, now, before you even start filling out forms, send your doctor an email. Unfortunately to change your gender marker you must receive “appropriate clinical treatment” which is defined as “Your physician determines what appropriate clinical treatment is according to acceptable medical practices, standards and guidelines, and certifies that you have had appropriate clinical treatment for transition to either male or female. Surgery is not a requirement to get a U.S. passport.” The doctor who writes this letter must be an M.D. or O.D.

A sample email to send your doctor is:

“Hello Dr.’s Name,

I am writing to request the writing of a letter to change my sex marker on my Passport. Attached below the template for it from the Dept. of State website. Just for your recollection, I have been taking Drug One Name (currently: Dosage mg/day) and Drug Two Name (currently: Dosage mg/day) for approximately Total Time on Medications. Also if it’s needed, I attached my most recent blood work. (If you have it)

For your reference I have copied and pasted the following from the Dept. of State:

Medical Certification

A signed, original statement from a licensed physician must be on office letterhead and include:

  • Physician’s full name, address, and telephone number
  • Medical license or certificate number
  • Issuing state or other jurisdiction of medical license/certificate
  • Language stating that:
    • He or she has treated you, or has reviewed and evaluated your medical history
    • You have had appropriate clinical treatment for transition to male or female, or are in the process of transition to male or female
  • The statement must include, “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the foregoing is true and correct.”
  • Medical certification requirements are the same for a minor as an adult.

Your physician determines what appropriate clinical treatment is according to acceptable medical practices, standards and guidelines, and certifies that you have had appropriate clinical treatment for transition to either male or female. Surgery is not a requirement to get a U.S. passport.

Thank you so much!”

Also attach this template as well as any blood work you have.

Now it’s the exciting day! Name change day!!

  1. Find out what time name change petition must be filed with the court clerk and head to the courthouse with some time to spare, the only 3 things you need are:
    1. Name Change Petition filled out
    2. Current ID with soon to be legally dead name
    3. $207 in cash
    4. Note that courthouses are secured places, you will go through a metal detector and bags through an X-ray, so don’t bring anything you wouldn’t take on a plane.
  2. File your petition, pay the fee (this must be done with cash) ask clerk for 3 copies
  3. Hang out till the hearing. (If you’re going to the King County Courthouse in Seattle there’s a public law library on the 6th floor that is a great place to wait
  4. Go to your hearing at the appropriate time and stand before the judge, nothing to stress about, they will likely ask no questions other than confirming you’re not doing this to commit fraud.
  5. Smile like a giddy school child and thank the judge and the clerk will hand you the 3 copies of the court order to change your name.

Next, you must pick up the letter from your doctor’s office, and while you’re there, ask them to sign off on the DOL Change of Gender Designation Request.

From here you’ll go off to the Social Security Office, take with you:

  1. An original of the court order to change your name
  2. The Passport (yes, passport) letter from your doctor to change your gender
  3. Current ID (yes, it will still have your dead name on it)

There is no fee for this filing, just the 3 hours of your life you’ll spend at the SSA. I recommend going right when they open, and the one at Aurora and 135th is much faster and more pleasant.

Now, go to the DOL, again, not the downtown one, or it will take forever. You will need:

  1. A current ID
  2. The Court Order to change your name
  3. The Change of Gender Designation Request, completed by you and your doctor
  4. The fee’s are crazy and hard to understand, I’d recommend getting an Enhanced ID it will either be about $24 or $113, depending on how much longer you have until your current license expires
  5. To get all spruced up if you’d like for your new license photo (just remember your hair will have to be out of your eyes)
  6. While you’re all spruced up you might as well swing by Walgreens and get your passport photos done (for $16.50)

Next you go off to the Passport Authority and take:

  1. A Court Order to change your name
  2. Application for a U.S. Passport
  3. Passport photos
  4. The Passport letter from your doctor to change your gender
  5. This will likely cost $165, I have no idea what lowers the cost, though the website say’s $0-165

Congratulations! With these documents you should be able to change your name everywhere you need!

Costs:

Court Ordered Name Change$207
New License$113
Passport Photos$16.50
Passport$165
Total$501

Places to change your name (and a rough order) after:

  1. Bank
  2. Other Credit, Debit, Investments, Loans, etc.
  3. Work
    1. Paychecks
    2. W-4
    3. I-9
    4. Direct Deposit
    5. Time Clock
  4. Insurance
    1. Car
    2. Health
    3. Home or Renters
  5. Vehicle registration
  6. Other places I’ve surely forgotten

Washington State has a very simple process for name change. Some (but not all) out-of-state readers have had success getting an out-of-state name change in Washington State after attempts in their home state failed.

In April 2009, a reader sent the following:

I’m a resident of Washington, and in April 2009, I finally got around to going down to the local district court in Pierce county. I walked right up to the counter, handed my completed paperwork (it’s online now: http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/pc/Abtus/ourorg/distct/dc1faq.htm#namechg ) to a polite woman behind the counter. All that was requested was my driver’s licence, not the birth certificate. I went right in to the courtroom. After about 4 traffic ticket hearings, I was called up by my former first name (but no one payed attention). The judge was having a good day and had let several people out of their tickets. After glancing at my papers, he said that he can see why I need to get this done to coincide with the other changes I’ve made in my life. I was then told to go back to the front office, where I awaited my certified copies. I was in and out of there in less than 40 minutes.

In January 2007, I received the following:

I am a transsexual who recently went to do a name change in the state of washington. On TS road map page on name change in King County, it tells readers that they can get their name changed at the Shoreline and 
Bellevue court houses with out even appearing in front of a judge. This is false as I did this today January, 9th 2007 at the Bellevue court house and I did have to appear before a judge. Was kind of a bummer as I was hoping the information written there was correct, and I am writing to update that information that some thing has changed and now you do have to appear before a judge and present to him/her why you want to change your name. I could not figure out how to reply to this post the Transsexual roadmap site, so I was hoping you could tell me how or update the info on that page for me. Just want other trans to know that this has changed since that post was made, so they will not be dissapointed like I was.

In June 2003 a reader sent the following:

Back to the matter at hand. Below is a brief description of what I went through to change my name and driver’s license (including the gender on it). If it needs any clarification, I can do that. Anne has a similar article on her main page, but it is beginning to show its age. Washington State name change for transgender women

1. Start the process

The general description of the process is available at:

http://www.lawhelp.org/documents/1488013400EN.pdf [revised December 2008] 

The main step is to identify your local district court. The procedure, forms, and fees vary from district to district. Some districts have most of the information online. For example, King County name change guidelines are available at:

http://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/DistrictCourt/NameChange.aspx [revised December 2008]

Call ahead and determine what days name changes are performed. The clerk will probably tell you that if you file by a certain time in the morning, you will appear before a judge that afternoon.

2. Take care of pre-hearing procedures

It is not required for you to have a recommendation letter from your therapist to change your name (the judge did not look at mine when offered). You DO need one for changing the gender on your driver’s license, so you might as well get several copies.

3. Go to court

Go to the clerk’s office in female attire and file your name change application (possibly filling it out there). You will have to show ID, pay the filing fees, and with some likelihood, be stared at by the clerk. Regarding fees, go ahead and pay for about four certified copies. Although many places I sent them to returned the copies, at one point I had four in the mail. 

The clerk will give you a court time, usually for that day. I filed around 9:30am and my session was not till 1:30pm. I spent the time walking around downtown Seattle and enjoying a day off. Get back to the court with time to spare since there is always a chance the room and judge may change (two dockets were combined when I did my name change).

It is likely that you will have a long wait till you are called before the judge. Wait patiently till your MALE name is called. Some courts are nice and will call your intended name, but this is not guaranteed. I was called up by my male name, much to the chagrin of the other people in the courtroom. 

The judge will ask you why you are changing your name and will ask you if you are doing this for illicit means (avoiding crime, debts, etc.). Answer succintly and offer your recommendation if necessary. My judge constantly referred to me as “son,” and did not need to see my letter. After about a minute of conversation, he signed the order.

4. Get your certificates

Most likely, the signed name change order will be sent right back to the clerk. Go to the clerk, identify yourself, and they will give you the appropriate copies, etc. Congratulations.

5. Change your driver’s license

In Washington state, you can change the gender on your license with a recommendation from your therapist. If your therapist is from the state, he will give you the appropriate person to contact. The procedure is basically to mail a certified copy of your name change order plus the recommendation to:

Executive Assistant 
Department of Licensing 
Driver Services 
POB 9020 
Olympia, WA 98507-9020

In about a week or two, you will get a letter affirming the gender change. At this point, you can head to any DMV to get a new license. Bring the letter and a certified copy of your name change to get a new license with the right gender, right name, and much better looking picture (all for a nominal fee of course).

Summary:

All in all, save a few annoyances with the judge and a clerk, the process was very painless. I was extremely proud to be recognized as a woman by my state.

Another reader writes;

Here’s some notes for Western Washington State name change….

You’ll need to obtain the appropriate forms for your County. These can either be obtained from your county courthouse, or you can find some of them online. Additionally, some counties have the procedures listed online. 

For some of the more populous counties, the online forms are listed below:

King County
Name Change Procedure: http://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/DistrictCourt/NameChange.aspx [revised December 2008] 
Name Change Petition: http://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/DistrictCourt/NameChange.aspx [revised December 2008] 

Take your name change petition to your local County Courthouse (be sure to put the
Indicate the courthouse in the petition). Currently, the county courthouses of Shoreline
And Bellevue will process your name change without requiring a hearing before the judge,
Simply drop off your petition and pick it up after they process it.

Other courthouses may require a hearing in front of the Judge.

You’ll need a copy of your drivers license, birth certificate, or passport.


Shohomish County
Contact your local district court for a petition for name change.
District Courts: http://www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/departments/District_Court/ [revised December 2008] 


Pierce County:
Petitions for name change are filed with the Court and require two forms: Petition for Changing Name and Order for Changing Name.
The forms may be picked up at the Civil/Infraction Division, 1902 96th St South. If the name change request is for a minor child, each parent must sign an affidavit indicating that they both agree and consent to the change. A $82 filing fee is required. The fee for an additional family member is $34. The additional costs are for three certified copies, statutory transmittal fee to the Auditor’s Office, and statutory recording fees.


For other counties, contact your local county courthouse (superior court), and ask them what their procedure is for name change. 
Ask them what:
documentation they need.
How much does the name change cost, including extra certified copies of the name change order.
How long will the procedure take.
Do you need to publish your name change in a local newspaper.

I recommend obtaining at least 4 copies of your name change order…One for your ‘safety deposit box’, one for your purse,
one for the Passport agency, and one extra.


If you need to have a hearing, show up on time, with all of the required documentation. 

There ya go…you’ve got a name change…

Another reader writes in November 2003

Please note that subsequent readers had to appear in court.

I changed my name in King County, Washington (Seattle) on October 23rd. As per the information on your website, I filed my paperwork at the Shoreline courthouse, hoping that I could avoid a court hearing, and get the change done in a day or two. I was pleasantly surprised when I filed the petition and order, found here: http://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/DistrictCourt/NameChange.aspx [revised December 2008]

The clerk was extremely pleasant, took the paperwork, and told me the fee would be $70 + $5 per certified copy. She stepped away while I gathered my money, and 2 minutes later handed me the signed order and five certified copies! I guess that was about as quick and painless as it gets!

My court ordered name change and 5 certified copies cost me a grand total of $95 and 5 minutes of my time, and I didn’t even have to appear in court!

I took my court order, the letter from my therapist, and a letter from myself, stating my intent to live full time, and met with Kristin Partain of WA DOL, driver services, in Olympia. (MUST set an appointment with Kristin in advance) Kristin was VERY helpful and understanding, and withing 5 minutes had a letter instructing Div of Licensing personnel to make the appropriate changes to my license. At the lobby counter, I had my new picture taken, the information was changed, and I was out the door in 5 minutes!

The only negative to my experience was that the lady at the social security office in Kent, WA would NOT change the sex on my social security sex until I had a letter from a surgeon confirming surgery, so anyone seeking to try to slide thru social security may want to try another social security office.

Anyway, just wanted to share my experience with you in hope that the information may be useful to others in the community.

Sent in January 2004

YESSS!!!! I got my new WA State drivers license today – and it says “F”. I can’t stop looking at it! I even like the picture for once!

Anyway, an important update to the WA State Department of Licensing information (I can write this up better if you like).

The Department of Licensing requires a therapist or physician letter from an in-state practitioner (i.e., a resident of WA). I don’t know if this was a recent change or not.

From a reader in May 2004:

Here is what I had to do in order to legaly change my name in Thurston county Washington state in March 2003. Things vary from county to county. I can only tell you what my experiance was.

First you are required to be a resident of Thurston county. All this means is that you live in Thurston county. There don’t seem to be any reqirements as to how long you have been living in Thurston county.

I went to the court house website and printed out the name change form. In the section regarding the reason for name change, I gave a compleatly honest reponse. Given the large volume of trans people here in Olympia I am sure they have done many name changes for that. In regards to reasons. It seems that as long as its not for fraud or the like, it doesn’t realy matter why you want the name change.

After filling out the form I dropped by the court house. I turned in the form along with the $58 filing fee. My court date was set. It was only a few weeks in the future. I showed up at the court house on the appointed day. I was wearing a skirt and heels. I felt it was important to dress nice when in front of the judge. The judge called me up by the new name. She looked at the form and said “looks like you put a lot of thought into this” I said “yes” and she signed off the form. I then went back to where I had originally dropped off the form.

There I got one free notarized copy of the form, along with 2 others for $5 each. After that was done I went to get a state ID with the new name and get the name on my social security changed. At the department of licensing the guy behind the counter was very nice and it was a simple process. He also explined that he couldn’t change the sex designation without a therapist letter. I then went to the social security
office to change the name. I was told there that to change the sex designation on that you need proof of SRS. When it was all said and done the biggest hassle was taking the bus and walking around in heels.

An additional note. In WA state they don’t reqire that you publicize the name change in the newspaper like other states do. Also I have been told that in other counties in WA its more expensive for the name change.

Other resources

Residency information for out-of state readers (sent by a reader in May 2005):

Please note that as of 2007, the information below has been applicable for some people and not applicable for others. You need to confirm this yourself rather than relying on this information.

A reader writes in August 2008:

I recently went through the process myself. I am a resident of Washington state and, as per your website, it was easy. I did have to go in front of a judge. I even got to waive most of the fee. In King County, it usually costs $110 total for filing. Because I am low-income, all I had to do was state that I have Social Security and then list my income and my expenses. All I paid for the whole deal was $42. I was in and out, same day, no problems.

However, I do want to caution others who might want to do as the website suggests. You do have to swear in court, under penalty of perjury, that you are a resident of the county in which you are applying for the name change. I am not versed in the entire legal language on this topic, nor am I a lawyer. I thought that I would bring this up so that you would know that there could be complications if someone were to try an out-of-state name change in Washington and they were discovered to be a non-resident. I would really hate to see anyone get in trouble. All states should make it this easy to change a name, but states have individual rights, and some make it harder on its citizens than others. I don’t want to see anyone expend all the effort and money on this kind of endeavor only to be thrown in jail. Transfolk have it hard enough.

I thought I’d pass this information along. I hope that it can help.

Another reader writes in October 2008

I had some trouble with a Judge in my local court. It seems that he did not think that transition was a valid reason to change my name and had refused my request on two attempts. I had the option to appeal but after searching your site came on a better solution.

I have relatives living in Washington state, a place where name changes are quite easy.

The first thing I did was to contact the court in the county where my relatives reside and get the requirements. They live in Tacoma/Pierce county. I was informed that all I needed to get a name change was a picture ID and a birth certificate. Out of state ID was OK. There is a residency requirement but the term or permanence of the residency was not an issue.

This is when I remembered the the debate of George Bush Sr. and the question of where he should vote. It seems that although he lived in Kennebunkport, he owned property in Texas and could therefore call it his residence. This was justified by him receiving mail at the Texas address. I simply established my residency by sending myself mail at my relative’s address, with their permission of course.

I flew to Seattle/Tacoma, had a nice visit with my relatives and went to the courthouse the next day. The courthouse is quite small and it took less than five minutes to fill out the two page name change request. I walked from the clerk’s office to the courtroom and was called for my hearing in less than a half hour.

The Judge was great, she called me by my female name and never once mentioned the former. She was very complementary on my reasons for the name change referring to them as “Definitely Necessary.” She congratulated me on my new name, admonished me to followup with my State ID and Social Security, and we were done. She never asked me about residency or had me swear that I lived there. I had two certified copies in my hand no more than ten minutes later and additional copies to be mailed to my Tacoma address in about a week.

The court costs were $117.00. I had travel and lodging expenses but all together it was less than what it had cost me for another attempt in California, and far less then the attorney fees for an appeal.

I got my name change and had a nice few days in Tacoma.

Just thought that this might be helpful to others.