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Name Changes and Gender Declarations for the Transgender and Non-Binary Community

Name Changes and Gender DeclarationsIdentity documents, such as your driver’s license, your passport, and even your birth certificate, are an introduction to who we are and who we would like to be known as to the world. Not only might these documents help us get into a bar on a Friday night, they can also serve to protect us from the legal ramifications of misidentification or a lack of identification entirely. Our identity showcases our uniqueness and should truthfully represent us.

For members of the transgender and non-binary communities, updates to identity documents can be very important as they mark a new beginning. And whereas obtaining a legal name change may have been arduous in the past, over the years the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia have made the process of modifying identity documents much easier.

Name Changes

Whether you are changing your entire name or just a portion of it, both Maryland and D.C. have provided adequate guidelines for those tackling this legal process.

Generally, to apply for a legal name change, the person must:

  • have lived in the District of Columbia or in a Maryland county (or Baltimore City) for a least six (6) months before filing the application or petition;
  • complete and submit an Application or Petition for Change of Name, as well as provide supporting documentation;
  • be at least 18 years old (a parent, legal guardian, or next-of-kin may apply on behalf of a minor child); an
  • pay the court filing fee

When submitting your application, you must certify that your request is not for any fraudulent purposes (e.g., avoiding creditors) and that the name change does not interfere with any ongoing legal matters (such as criminal or custody proceedings). You may also want to certify that you aren’t attempting to intentionally take someone else’s name. Unfortunately, we cannot all be Beyonce Knowles-Carter or Taylor Swift.

Both Maryland and D.C. have specific notice requirements, with which you must comply before the name change process may be completed. Once completed, you will be able to take the final order to respective agencies to apply for updated information on your identity documents.

Gender Declarations

Also important are gender declarations, which affirm the identity of transgender and non-binary people by creating a greater sense of legal protection. Currently, a court order is not required to update your gender markers with the Social Security Administration (Social Security card) or with the U.S. Department of State (passport), but it will be required if you would like to change your birth certificate or update your marker elsewhere. Although similar and often joined with the name change process, there is not a uniform process detailing what is required for a gender declaration request to be granted in our area. In addition to the basic requirements listed above for name changes, you may need to include the following with your gender declaration request and petition:

  • a declaration that the request is not being made for any illegal or fraudulent purposes; and
  • a statement from your licensed healthcare provider related to your request.

Oftentimes, the statement from your licensed healthcare provider must be very specific. Take care to ensure that your provider understands exactly what language is required for each jurisdiction.

Although the process appears to be straightforward, issues of consent, objections, and confidentiality are often addressed throughout these matters and require legal assistance. McMillan Metro Faerber, P.C. can help you navigate this ever-growing and sometimes complex area of the law. Please contact Geoffrey T. Witherspoon, II at (301) 251-1180 or for assistance with your name change or gender declaration.