Changing your federal identity documents to reflect your correct gender and name can seem challenging. In the U.S. there is no single application you can submit to change all your documents; you will need to change your documents with each individual agency, and each agency has its own procedures to follow. Minors can get updated documents too, but note that all applications for minors are subject to special parental consent requirements.
State laws are different than Federal laws. Some states require documentation of sex reassignment surgery in order to change your gender marker on your birth certificate.
Federal law allows you to change your name and gender marker on your passport. This allows a transgender individual to get proper Federal i.d. and bypass state laws. Also, for a teen about to take driver’s ed, if you go the passport route, the teen is able to get his/her permit and license with the preferred name and gender.
You can find detailed instructions for changing your federal identity documents on the websites for these organizations:
- National Center for Transgender Equality http://transequality.org/documents
- Transgender Law Center http://transgenderlawcenter.org/issues/id/id-please
These are the federal agencies you need to contact and a brief description of what you need to do:
Social Security Administration
You must appear in person at a Social Security Office.
NAME change: You must submit one of these:
- Name change court order (original or certified copy)
- Marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership certificate (original or certified copy)
- Divorce decree (original or certified copy)
- Certificate of citizenship or naturalization (original only)
GENDER change: You must submit one of these:
- A U.S. passport showing the correct gender,
- A birth certificate showing the correct gender,
- A court order recognizing the correct gender
- A signed letter from a provider confirming you have had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition (see *note below)
United States Passport
- You must obtain a court ordered name change.
- You are required to have valid ID and proof of U.S. citizenship.
- You must submit a passport application with a letter from a physician stating you have had “appropriate clinical treatment” for gender change. (See *note below)
Immigration Service Documents
- It is best to start the immigration process with the correct or preferred “name.”
- A court order or other legal name change should be obtained.
GENDER change: you will need one of these three:
- An amended birth certificate or passport
- A court ordered gender change
- A letter from physician regarding “appropriate clinical treatment.” (See *note below)
*NOTE: The wording of the physician letter is very important and needs to include the words “appropriate clinical treatment.” You can view a sample and specific instructions here.
The information here is gathered from Transgender Law Center and is only a basic guide. For the most up-to-date information, and for guidance through the process, contact these great organizations:
- Transgender Law Center http://transgenderlawcenter.org/
- Telephone helpline: 415.865.0176
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- National Center for Transgender Equality http://transequality.org/
If you still need assistance after checking out these resources, feel free to contact one of our Ally Moms. We are in about 2 dozen U.S. states, Canada and the United Kingdom.
This information was researched and put together by Janna, one of our Ally Moms in California.