Everyone, Including Caitlyn, Should be Able to Get Name/Gender Change Help! | National Center for Transgender Equality


Friday, September 18, 2015

Everyone, Including Caitlyn, Should be Able to Get Name/Gender Change Help!

According to news reports, Caitlyn Jenner filed paperwork last week with the California courts to change her legal name and gender. Once her court order is granted, Caitlyn will be able to update all of her identification documents to reflect her name and gender. Updating identity documents can be an important and affirming step for many transgender individuals, and we congratulate Caitlyn for making the changes that are right for her.

Unfortunately, it isn’t always so easy for many trans people. The legal name change process and the process of updating identity documents is a daunting, and sometimes unattainable, step for many people. According to the 2009 National Trans Discrimination Survey, only 21% of transgender people had been able to update all of their IDs and records with their new gender. Caitlyn likely paid $435 to file her petition with the California courts, and probably had lawyers help her fill out and file the paperwork. However, many transgender people cannot afford court fees or legal assistance fees. Caitlyn happens to live in California, a state that has a fairly streamlined name and gender change process, and she was born in New York, a state where she is permitted to get an updated birth certificate issued with her updated legal name and proper gender. Many others are not so lucky, as the gender marker change laws vary greatly across the country.

To help address these issues and provide people with accurate information on the name and gender change process, NCTE created the ID Document Center, a one-stop shop with information on how to change your name, driver’s license, or birth certificate in every U.S. state and territory. The ID Center includes detailed information on changing federal records such as social security, passports, immigration documents, and more. NCTE also continues the push to make name and gender change processes more accessible in every state by removing surgical requirements, court order requirements, and other barriers preventing any of us from getting updated IDs.

Even with this great resource however, some folks just need to talk with a lawyer or other expert, but simply cannot afford it. So NCTE also has created the Trans Legal Services Network (TLSN) to help ensure that every transgender person has access to assistance navigating the complicated name and gender change process and any other legal issues they may face. The Network brings together over 50 organizations serving trans communities to share advice, technical support and legal resources, helping member organizations build capacity and expand their services. Through regular phone conferences, listserv conversations, and individualized support the Network serves to improve and expand name and gender change services and other legal services available to trans people across the country. To find out if there is a TLSN member organization that serves your area, check out our website.

We congratulate Caitlyn on being able to take this step that must be so important for her, and we encourage other trans people who need to check out the resources on our website to move forward in their own way as well.

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