Name Changes and Gender Marker Changes for Transgender Individuals in New Jersey

August 15, 2013

The Law Office of Randolph Wolf has been helping individuals change legally change their names for over 30 years.  For transgender individuals wishing to change their name and gender markers, the first step is to obtain a court ordered name change judgment.  Once this is obtained, you can then amend most documents to reflect your new name and gender.   The article below serves as a guide for those individuals wishing to change their name and/or gender markers on important documents, including your driver’s license, social security card, and birth certificate.

CHANGING YOUR NAME

Transgender persons may want to change their first name to reflect their gender identity or their last name as part of a civil union.  If you are at least 18 years old, you can change your name for almost any reason as long as it is not for fraudulent purposes, such as to avoid creditors, judgments, and/or criminal prosecutions.  You must file your name change petition in the Superior Court of the New Jersey County in which you presently reside, regardless of where you were born.  Name changes usually require a court appearance and generally take three to four months to complete.  Once you obtain a court-ordered name change judgment, you can then change your name on various identification documents. 

Driver’s License: To change your name on your New Jersey driver’s license, you must present a copy of a court-ordered name change judgment in person to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

Birth Certificate: Birth certificate changes are based on your birthplace and rules vary by state.  If you born in New Jersey, you can change your name on your birth certificate by submitting a letter to the New Jersey Department of Vital Statistics indicating the change needed as well as a certified copy of the original judgment of name change.  For more detailed instructions, click here.  If you were born outside of New Jersey, check your state’s policy on changing birth certificates.

Social Security Card: To change your name on your social security card, submit a certified copy of the original judgment of name change either through mail or in person at a Social Security office.  For more detailed instructions, click here.

CHANGING GENDER MARKERS

New Jersey Driver’s License: Changing your gender marker on your New Jersey driver’s license is relatively simple.  You are not required to have undergone sexual reassignment surgery.  Instead, you only need to have a licensed medical provider, therapist, and/or social worker indicate what your gender identity is on the following form – Declaration of Gender Designation Change for New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Driver License or Identification Card.  Once the form is complete, take it to the MVC along with an $11.00 fee.

New Jersey Birth Certificate: Birth certificate changes are based on your birthplace and rules vary by state.  While some states require that you undergo sexual reassignment surgery to change your birth certificate, others do not.  Unfortunately, as of now, New Jersey requires you to have undergone surgery in order to change your gender marker on your birth certificate.  To change you gender marker on your New Jersey birth certificate, you must submit the following:

(1) A letter requesting the changes to be made;

(2) A copy of your birth certificate; and

(3) A notarized letter from your surgeon regarding your sexual reassignment surgery or a notarized copy of the surgical report.

Pending legislation, however, may modernize the requirements for updating birth certificates in New Jersey.  Bill A-4097/S-2786 would update the procedure and remove surgical requirements to change gender markers on birth certificates for transgender people.  Instead of proving a surgical procedure, a transgender person would be required to produce a certificate from a licensed health care provider that has evaluated the individual and concluded that they received “appropriate clinical treatment.”  As of June 24, 2013, the bill was referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee for review.

Social Security Card: While there is no sex listed on your social security card, it is listed in your Social Security record.  Prior to June 2013, transgender persons wishing to change their gender marker through the Social Security Administration were required to submit a letter from their surgeon or primary care provider verifying that a sex change procedure has occurred.  In June 2013, however, the Social Security Administration revised its policy and removed the requirement that transgender must provide proof of reassignment surgery.  Instead, transgender individuals must submit one of the following documents:

(1)  A passport showing the new sex;

(2) An amended birth certificate showing the new sex;

(3) A court order directing legal recognition of change of sex; or

(4) A letter from a license physician certifying appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.

For detailed instructions on changing your gender marker on Social Security records, click here.

At The Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf, we will guide you through the process of changing your name and/or gender markers and help you understand the procedures required to obtain a new driver’s license, social security card, or birth certificate.  Contact us today for a free consult.

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