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Exploring Gender: Changing Your Name on Documentation




A few weeks ago, I went down to the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court in my city and filled out the paperwork for my name change. It was a fairly painless process, and I received the court order signed by the judge within a week and a half. But once you do have your name changed legally, how do you go about changing your documentation: your driver’s license, your bank accounts, your insurance?


The first thing I went to change was my driver’s license. When I went in, the person handing out numbers gave me a form to apply for a new driver’s license, which just involves marking a box for a new voter registration and filling out the form with your new name. We all love going to the DMV, with the numbers and the waiting and filling out forms, but it was a fairly painless experience beyond the amount of time I spent waiting. I got to the window, and the person who helped me took my papers, typed the information into the computer, took my picture, and told me I’d have my new license within a week. I was allowed to keep my old license while waiting, which considering I could not yet change my name on credit or debit cards, helped to ensure I could still use those I had while waiting for the cards with my new name.

Changing those cards and bank accounts can be a little more difficult. Different banks have different policies. At my first bank, the banker was able to change the name on all of my accounts and cards with a copy of the court order and my license. At my second bank, I was told I would need to have my license and another form of identification, such as a social security card or a passport. If your bank is out of the way, you may want to call them and ask what their requirements are to change your name so you don’t waste the trip.

To change all of your other documents, including insurance and your official documentation at work, you must change your name on your social security card and use that as proof of the change, perhaps with the court order for your name change depending on individual policies. Changing my social security was easier than changing my license. I just had to go to the Social Security Administration building downtown, get a number, and wait. I went to the window and showed them my new license and the court order. We had a brief conversation about how my gender marker hadn’t been changed on my license, so it couldn’t be changed on my social security (Virginia requires a letter from a therapist sent to the DMV to change it). It took about five minutes for them to change my name in the computer, and they told me within two weeks, I would have my new social security card. The only thing I have yet to do is work to change my passport, instructions to which can be found here. If you have any questions about changing you name on documents or would like to tell your experience, please leave it in the comments, message me here or on tumblr. 

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