If you have undergone gender reassignment surgery, you are in the process of starting a whole new life with your new identity. To make things easier, you may want to consider having your legal documents changed to reflect your new identity.

What Legal Documents Should I Change for a New Name?

The primary documents that you will need to change to reflect your identity are your:

  • Social security card;
  • Driver’s license and/or state ID;
  • Birth certificate; and
  • Passport.

While you may choose to change other documents as well, these are the main four that will help you with functioning in the day-to-day world. These are also the main four forms of identification that most other entities will ask for in order to change your name on other things, such as bank accounts or utility bills.

What Kind Of Information Do I Need To Bring to Change My Name?

Different states may have different requirements regarding documentation for name and gender changes. Some will require a copy of the court order that makes your new name legally official. Others also require a note from the doctor who performed your gender reassignment surgery to verify the change.

Which Legal Documents Should I Change First for My New Name?

If you are planning to change your name to better reflect your identity, there are a few things to consider. You can streamline the process by having your documents changed in a particular order, since different government agencies will require different documentation in order to process your paperwork. To make the process smoother, you may want to follow this order.

First: Get a Court Order Showing Your Name and/or Gender Change

The very first thing that you will need to do is have your name and gender legally changed in the court system. Since many states require a court order finalizing the name change in order to proceed with changing any other documentation, this is should be your first step.

The process varies depending on what state you live in, but it should be pretty straight forward. You file a petition with the court indicating what you would like your new name to be. You may have to be present in court at least once for a hearing. If you have any questions regarding the process of having your name and/or gender legally changed by court order, you may want to consider talking to an attorney who helps people with their name changes on a regular basis. 

It’s a good idea to get extra certified copies of the court order finalizing your name change, since some government offices require either signed originals or certified copies to be submitted with your application.

Second: Change your Social Security Card

Once you have the court order showing your new legal name, you can start getting new identification documents. Your next stop should be with Social Security. Unfortunately, you cannot apply for a new Social Security card online. However, you can either go to your local Social Security office or file your application by mail.

When changing your Social Security records, you will need proof of your identity under both your old and new names. Usually, this means that you provide the document that proves your legal name change—like a copy of your court order. You will also need to show a document that serves as proof of identity, like a driver’s license, state-issued identification card, or passport. If your name change occurred over two years ago, you may also need to provide additional documentation to prove your identity in your prior name. All documents that you provide must be originals or certified copies.

Your new Social Security card will have the same number as your old card, but will show your new name.

Third: Change Your Driver’s License or State ID

Every state has its own rules for driver’s licenses and ID cards, so you may want to check with your local DMV regarding specific required documents. Generally, though, many of the documents will be the same across the board.

Most states will require evidence of your legal name change documents, such as a copy of the court order regarding your name change. You may also need to show your old driver’s license or state ID.

If you own a vehicle, you’ll also need to change your name on your vehicle records (like your car registration). You can also do this through your local DMV. 

In many states, you will have to go to the DMV office in person to have your name changed on your records. Depending on what state you live in, there may also be a small fee for your new driver’s license and vehicle registration.

Fourth: Changing Your Birth Certificate

When it comes to changing your birth certificate, many states will allow you to have your gender changed to better reflect your identity. However, there are some states that will not. For example, Tennessee currently will not issue changes to gender designations on birth certificates.

Different states also have different documentation that they require in order to amend birth certificates. You may want to call your county Office of Vital Records to make sure you have the proper documentation before you apply for the change.

Should I Talk to an Attorney If I’m Changing My Name After Gender Reassignment Surgery?

The process of changing your name and gender on your official documents can be overwhelming, especially if you are not familiar with government paperwork and procedure. However, many individuals successfully change their name without too much trouble. But, there can be cases where you require extra help.

If you are confused or uncertain about what documents you need, then contact a lawyer experienced with government work. They may be able to help you if the issue is more complex than you expected, like a missing document or if you have several legal names.