Legal Name and Gender Change: Detailed Information with SAMPLE PACKETS (California)

I have been meaning to post this for quite a while, but I have been shorter on time than I have on good intentions. 🙂 I know this is something that many people need assistance with, as filing a name and gender change (for yourself or your child) can be a daunting undertaking. Please keep in mind it typically takes 6 weeks from filing the documents to court date with a completed court order.

I want to give a huge “thank you” to Emmett for putting together a list of step-by-step instructions for filing a name and gender change and providing me with the court paperwork for an adult. Also, special thanks to Britt for providing the sample paperwork for a name/gender change for a minor.

I took the paperwork and filled out “sample” packets for each. The areas you need to fill out are highlighted. These didn’t scan well, so I apologize for the poor quality. If you have any trouble reading them, please let me know and I will either re-scan or I can answer specific questions. The files are too large to email. I know these are specific for San Diego, but I hope they will be useful to those in other parts of the state as well. If you are one of my clients and see me in my office, please ask me for a copy of the sample packets- I have several on hand!

Click here for the Transgender Law Center’s page with links to forms needed. (San Diego County link listed below.) For those of you not in San Diego, simply Google your county and “name and gender change”. PLEASE NOTE, DUE TO AB1121,  IF YOU ARE CHANGING YOUR NAME TO REFLECT YOUR GENDER IDENTITY, YOU NO LONGER HAVE TO PUBLISH ANYTHING IN THE NEWSPAPER. If the court is unaware of this, educate them.

Here is the Transgender Law Center’s awesome resource, “ID Please” that includes UPDATED information on changing name, gender, etc.  If you are interested in pursuing a name and gender change, start on page 9. If you ONLY need to change your child’s gender marker (keeping birth name), and your child was born in California: click here.

Filing the packet costs $435 (at least in San Diego), but the fee can be waived based on low income. (“In Forma Pauperis“.)

Youth (minor) name and gender change sample packet HERE.

Adult name and gender change sample packet HERE.

BEFORE YOUR COURT DATE

(Thanks again to Emmett for these detailed notes!)

Print all necessary forms and fill them out (or have them filled out, as is the case for the doctor one, NC-210). Here is the website for printing the forms for San Diego.

Forms needed for an both an adult or a minor name/gender change:

CM-010

NC-220

NC-230

NC-200

NC-210

NC-110

-Make a copy of signed/filled out paperwork for your records. Bring the original packet and a copy of the packet to 330 W. Broadway. (Downtown San Diego).

-Once you pass the security check, take the escalator up to the second floor & the Civil Business area.

-It can be a little confusing, so ask someone if you are lost.

-Get in line on the far left of the room and wait to file your forms with the clerk.

-They will go over all your forms, stamp them and give you a case number.

-They may try to tell you that you need to publish your name change, REMEMBER that AB 1121 went into effect July 1, 2014 that states that a person changing their name for gender purposes is not required to publish.

-They will give you a court hearing date and time.

DURING YOUR COURT DATE

-Show up early.

-Bring both copies of all the documents and a pen.

-Give yourself time to find the court room.

-Sit down and wait outside.

-A lot of people will likely start showing up because people legally change their names for a variety of reasons (marriage, divorce, etc).

-Someone will come out and point to a list that is up on the wall. The list has everyone’s name on it and a number next to it. Find out what number you are and write it down. They call out cases by number and sometimes last name (so don’t worry about your birth name being called out!)

-They sometimes call in everyone that is getting both a name and gender change first because there are fewer people and it’s a more private matter than a marriage.

-You will get called in, you will be seated, the judge will come in, they will review your documents, and if everything is in order: declare your new legal name. (Congratulations!)

-After that they will tell you to go wait outside and they will bring you four signed copies of the court order.

-Do not worry about your physical appearance or gender presentation. If all the forms are filled out, especially the physician form, the judge does not care.

-You can leave and celebrate. 🙂

AFTER YOUR COURT DATE

Your work is not done! There are more documents to change that had your birth name on them. These documents are supposed to “match” in the system, so this is important. Here’s the order you must go in.

1) Social security

-1333 Front St, San Diego, CA 92101. (855) 820-0097

-Fill out this form for a CORRECTED social security card

You’ll need to bring your court order (form NC-230), identification (driver’s license, ID or passport) and the form above filled out.

-No need to make an appointment, just walk in and take a number.

-Allow 4-6 weeks for the card to come in the mail.

-IMPORTANT The form does not include a specific gender change. So in the “sex” section mark the gender that you legally changed to (transmasculine folks mark male, transfeminine folks mark female) and make sure to point it out on the form when they call you up. It doesn’t say your gender marker on the card, but it does in their system, and that’s how the DMV verifies your gender when you go there to change your documents. Confirm they have changed it in their system.

2) DMV

-Go to whichever DMV is closest to you. Make an appointment, or get there early.

-Fill out this form with your doctor BEFORE going to the DMV

You’ll need to bring your court order (form NC-230), identification (driver’s license or ID) and the form above filled out.

-You will also need to fill out form DL 44 (name change), but they give you that when you show up.

-They’ll call you up, review your forms, tell you everything is good and send you over to get a new photo taken.

-Allow 4-6 weeks for you Driver’s license to come in the mail. They will send you an ID card sooner than that.

3) Bank

-IMPORTANT you must have your updated ID or driver’s license BEFORE going to your bank. They use it as proof that you are who you say you are.

-Go in and ask to see a teller.

-Bring your court order (just in case), and your new ID or driver’s license.

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In the near future I will be posting more detailed information about how to change your birth certificate and password- stay tuned!

If you have any information that would be helpful to add to this blog post, please email me at tandotherapy@me.com

One more time, here are the sample packets!

MINOR PACKET

ADULT PACKET

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The Catalyst: When Being Transgender is Brought Into Conscious Awareness

Say you’re visiting a foreign city and you’ve been sightseeing all day. So many things to do and see, you’ve been going nonstop. Suddenly you see a menu hanging outside the door of a restaurant with a picture of the most delicious looking pasta you’ve ever seen. Suddenly aware of how hungry you are, you exclaim to your companion, “I’m STARVING!!” The two of you quickly agree to go inside the restaurant for a meal and begin pouring over the menu to see what other options are available.

Despite the common phrase, “Stop talking about that! You’re making me hungry!”, nothing but time and lack of food can actually make someone hungry. Did the picture on the menu actually create the existence of hunger? No, of course not. You were hungry because you had been active and had not eaten in a while. The menu simply made you aware of your hunger; it was the catalyst.

Such is the same with anything that sparks a transgender person’s “AHA” moment. Unless the person is someone who was insistent about their gender identity from early childhood, many individuals can name what it was that brought their being transgender into conscious awareness. For some, this is a person; either the person understands about gender identity and could explain it to them in a way that made sense, or the person had experience themselves with gender nonconformity. Often times this person will be significant to the transgender individual’s journey because of the help they provided in coming to understand themselves. Sadly, for some loved ones the person who was the catalyst becomes the person who is blamed for influencing the transgender individual. However, no one becomes transgender just because their friend is or because someone explains the notion of being transgender. One is either transgender or not; nothing another person can say or do can change it.

I will say that another person can influence the journey, or the transition, of the transgender individual. Influences by other people can either speed up or slow down the transition process. However, the transition is more an intervention to the state of being transgender and is not necessarily a good thing to be avoided. Read more about the separation of these two concepts in my blog post “What Are You Going to Do About it?

Other means by which someone may be triggered into understanding themselves and their true gender identity are often mainstream media, books, and of course, the internet. I’ve heard some parents lament the existence of the internet, feeling certain if it did not exist their child would never have learned about this and would therefore not be transgender. I have to gently remind them that their child would still be transgender, but they may not be consciously aware of it or know what options are available for it until much later. (Again, this is not necessarily a good thing. For those who feel the need to transition, early medical intervention can be very beneficial. For those who identify as nonbinary or under the trans* umbrella, they may come to understand their gender identity and how to ask others to respect it much earlier than they might otherwise have.) A catalyst is not causal; it does not cause the existence of something. It simply allows for awareness that something exists. In many ways, the catalyst has an extremely important job and is an essential part of the process. Just as that menu was the catalyst to help you recognize (and do something about) your hunger before you were collapsing from low blood sugar in the middle of a foreign town square, such is the case with something triggering awareness of being transgender. Transgender people may be grateful to the person or thing that brought this into their conscious awareness; maybe someday their loved ones will be too.

Do you think a catalyst can be causal?

If you are transgender, do you remember your catalyst? What was it?

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Your Gender Variant Child: Teasing

Most children get teased at one point or another in school. Sadly, teasing has become part of the social culture at schools and often goes on away from adult supervision. A gender variant child is even more susceptible to teasing given that they tend to behave or dress in a way that can be unexpected by other children or deemed by other children to be “different”. As most of us know, those that are “different” or in the minority are more likely to be teased, get teased more often, and often more severely than other children.

You know that one tone of voice children use when tattling? “MOO-ooomm, Johnny HIT Meeee!”. It’s universal. I’m convinced kids are born knowing how to use this voice, without ever having it modeled for them. Parents have a similar standard tone/cadence when warning their child about natural and logical consequences to choices. “Okaaayy, you can go on that water ride, but you’ll probably get soaked and feel cold the rest of the day!”. It just comes with the parenting territory. Letting your child choose behaviors while warning possible ramifications is a parenting basic.

Warning about being teased for being gender nonconforming gets tricky, however. Being gender nonconforming is not a behavior; it is a way a person is. Warning about teasing that may come from displaying a core characteristic/something the child cannot change is dangerous territory. Yes, the child can choose to act on or express their way of being, or choose to inhibit it. But they cannot change being gender nonconforming or transgender.  While I can appreciate and recognize a parent’s urge to warn and possibly prevent teasing that may come from a way of dress, behavior, or interest, this can quickly be translated to shame and self doubt. The problem is, in these scenarios we’re not talking about nose-picking or some other minor social infractions that a child can learn how to avoid. We’re talking about children being who they are, and who are doing absolutely nothing wrong. “Warning” the child  by saying something like “If you choose to play with ‘boy things’, you might get teased at school”, “Girls don’t usually have really short hair, so you might get teased,  but you can cut it if you want”, “Boys don’t usually walk or talk like that, but if you want to go ahead. Just know you might get teased” may not have the protective nature parents are going for.  In fact, it may teach the child to prescribe to what others say is the best way for them to be. Remember my Oxygen blog? Much like you wouldn’t “warn” a child about being teased for wearing an oxygen tank to combat oxygen deprivation, try not to warn your gender nonconforming child to avoid their natural gender expression.

I want to again acknowledge that most parents are coming from a very loving place when they explain what may lay ahead. My worry is that this can instill fear and dread in the place of blissful innocence. It may make the child LESS equipped to deal with the teasing that may come with being gender nonconforming.  If my parents had sat me down as a child and said, “Just so you know, little girls with hazel eyes sometimes get teased. Some people think hazel eyes are wrong and some people just don’t like kids with hazel eyes.  You can go ahead and wear those hazel eyes to school, but just know you might get teased”, I would have experienced childhood differently. I may have been fearful to let my true eye color show, even though I couldn’t change it. I may have looked at (or looked away from) everyone I met with just a little bit of suspicion or mistrust. I may have thought, “Is this one of the people who hate kids with hazel eyes?”. I may have chosen to grow up wearing sunglasses, even indoors. Many parents warn their children about being gender nonconforming much in the same way, even though it’s not something the child can change. Yes, the child could change his or her behavior to HIDE who he or she really is, but that’s not what we want for our children, is it?  Children become inhibited based on the response of others soon enough. 

So, what’s a parent to do? Parents can help their child by unconditionally supporting who they are on the inside so they know without a doubt I AM AWESOME JUST THE WAY I AM.  This won’t prevent the pain associated with teasing, but it will help build the ego strength in the child so that he or she understands their basic worth doesn’t change based on what others say.

If your child asks you if you think he or she may be teased for wearing something, doing something, etc., be honest. Say “maybe”, and then discuss how the child might best handle it.  Communicate (even if you have to “fake it”) that you know your child will be ok even if he or she is teased. This energy is something they will absorb from you.

 If your child comes home and reports being teased, ASK QUESTIONS; you don’t have to be the one with all the answers. This will help you get a feel for how much understanding your child has about the reasons behind the teasing. “Why do you think they teased you about wearing a skirt?” “Why do you think they said that?” (Not what they are used to, they don’t understand, they feel differently, etc.)

At dinnertime, bedtime, etc. ask your child about the best and worst parts of their day. If they report teasing, process it with them. Talk with them about how it made them feel, and how they can take care of themselves when they have that feeling. Discuss and practice possible responses based on the teasing so they feel more equipped should it happen again.

Last but not least, take care of yourself and your own feelings! Listening about your child being teased can be a very hard thing for a parent to take. Talk to your friends, talk to other parents, talk to a therapist. Remind yourself this is not something you can “fix” or prevent, but you are doing right by your child by nurturing his or her true self.