Court Order For Name Change (In the USA)


Before you commit legally to a name, I recommend reading about names and other peoples ideals on nemas that will fit for age and for what will fit you but int he end it is what you choose think hard about it.


I recommend getting a court order for name change before anything else. You will not run into any problems if you get this document first, since everyone accepts it as valid proof. Other documents might not be adequate in some cases. The process is often easy, but it varies by state. Print out the materials for your state and take it with you to make things easier. Some people have had a very difficult time with this step. Much depends on your state, and on the sympathy of the judge you get.

Some people have been able to switch official documents without a court order for name change. If you cannot afford the costs for this document in your state (which may be more or less), check with local transgender people and support networks for information on other successful methods in your state. However, I believe this is the most hassle-free way to proceed, since it carries the weight of judicial decree and will not be questioned.

You cannot change your name to avoid financial obligations or to commit fraud. The judge may ask you about this, including whether you have any judgments against you in court, if you have ever been convicted of a felony, if your taxes have been paid, or if you have declared bankruptcy. You can often usually still change your name despite some of the reasons above, but I suggest working with a legal professional since it may be more complicated.

You can do all this yourself, but if you feel like you'd rather have someone help you, try to find a person you know who has already done this, or a family member, or you can pay a legal professional to help. There are four basic steps:


1. Start the process. This is usually done by filling out a petition for change of name with the clerk of the circuit court, usually in the chancery division. Call your county government offices to find out where you need to go. You can also get the forms for your state for a fee from  US Legal Forms. Plan ahead! If you have a target date for going full-time, you should find out how long it will take to get a court date. For instance, the earliest I could get a court date was over seven weeks from the date I registered. Once you have your court order in hand, you should plan on additional time to get your Social Security card changed. Most report getting their new one in about a week from the day they applied. At any rate, each state is different, so find out from others in your state how long the entire process took for them.


2. Take care of pre-hearing requirements. The process for this varies widely by state. You may be required to publish a legal notice of your name change prior to your court date. If so, the chancery office where you go probably will refer you to a publication in which you can run your notice, usually for a fee. You'll be given petition to fill out, which may ask for old and new names, address, length of state residency, and place of birth. You may also be given an affidavit which has to be signed by a friend acquainted with you who knows your birth name. This may need to be filled out in the presence of a notary public and notarized. You will usually be assigned a court date at this time.


3. Show up on your assigned court date. If you have an option, I'd recommend doing it as early as possible so you can spend the rest of the day getting the ball rolling on other name change applications. What you will need to do will vary by state. Here's common checklist for before you see the judge

  • Completed petition and copies
  • Money for legal notice publication (may accept only cash and certified checks)
  • Notarized affidavits acknowledging birth name
  • Proof of legal notice publication
  • Money for court costs (may accept only cash and certified checks)
  • Photo identification with old name (just in case)
  • Letter from your therapist (just in case)

4. Get any certified copies you will need. I returned to the chancery office to get certified copies of the signed judgment for $6 each. I got half a dozen just in case, but I probably won't need half that many. You'll need to send certified copies to some financial institutions and government agencies, which will NOT accept photocopies or notarized copies.


Transgender Military Issues

Although ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' does not target service members on the basis of gender identity, the law adversely impacts all members of the military. The ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law is sexual orientation specific and therefore does not prohibit transgender persons from serving in the military unless the transgender service member also identifies as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Oftentimes, however, gender non-conforming service members are perceived as lesbian or gay and therefore may be impacted by ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' in one way or another. With the new change of 'don't ast, don't tell" being lefted from the militry rules are changing and with this its still sracery time and best to talk with legal to best know all detail of this is only what information is out and will be updated best as can be.

Several other military regulations effectively prohibit service by transgender persons. The military has a very binary view of gender and, as a result, has specific regulations with very precise language based on that view. The military medical system does not recognize the World Professional Association for Transgender Health's Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders and will not provide the medical support necessary for transitioning service members. For service members who are thinking of transitioning while in the military using non-military medical providers, it is important to note that each service branch has 1) specific regulations regarding medical conditions they consider to be "disqualifying"; 2) regulations regarding members seeking health care from providers outside of the military system which may include reporting requirements; and 3) uniform and grooming standards by gender.

For more information on these or other issues affecting transgender service members, please contact SLDN for assistance.


Transgender Service Members
Although “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” does not target service members on the basis of gender identity, the law adversely impacts all members of the armed forces. Lesbian, gay and bisexual service members are barred from service under a statute known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” This law does not directly address military service by transgender persons because by definition it is a ban on military service because of sexual orientation. However, transgender service members may be perceived as being lesbian or gay by others in the military and therefore may end up being investigated under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The military regulations that directly apply to transgender individuals break down into two basic categories: 1) medical regulations, and 2) conduct regulations. How these regulations may impact transgender individuals depends on what their service status is with the military.

Entering the Military

Transgender individuals are prohibited from entering military service by medical regulations. To join the military, potential service members are required to undergo a physical examination as part of the entry process. During this examination, the military may reject the potential service member if he or she has had any type of genital surgery. Furthermore, even if the potential service member has not had surgery but identifies as transgender, the military considers this to be a mental health condition which disqualifies them from entering military service. Transgender individuals may request a waiver to enter the military, although waivers are difficult to obtain. Any transgender individual interested in joining the military should contact SLDN for more information about the waiver process.


You can enter the military but you MUST enter under the gender of your brith and then do what you can to live as that gender. As an Transman that has been in the military and come out, i can tell you it is trying at times but its not somethign for everyone but if you wish to do it then go for it.

Active Duty Military

Transgender individuals who are already in the military and who are thinking about beginning their transition should think twice about this decision. The military currently has a strong bias against service by transgender individuals and is unlikely to provide the medical support necessary for transitioning service members. The medical and mental health regulations described above apply to currently serving individuals, so even if transgender service members seek treatment from civilian health care providers, they are at risk because they have a duty to report such treatment to the military. Failure to abide by these regulations could result in criminal prosecution by the military.
Also, the military strictly regulates uniform and grooming standards by gender. “Cross-dressing” or perceived “cross-dressing,” even in the context of following medical protocol in advance of full transition, will probably be considered a violation of military regulations and result in discipline, discharge or criminal prosecution.

Individual Ready Reserve Military

Transgender persons recalled to duty from the inactive reserve may need to consider halting their transition process while they complete their active duty requirement because of the regulations discussed above. Otherwise, transitioning or post-transitioning reservists may be medically disqualified for continued service once they are recalled to duty and receive physical examinations.
Any transgender individual with questions about military service or who is being harassed or is under investigation based on his or her status as transgender should contact SLDN.


Selective Service/"The Draft" and Trans Men
In the United States, almost all male citizens (as well as many male non-citizens living in the U.S.) who are between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to register with Selective Service. The purpose of the Selective Service agency is to provide manpower to the U.S. armed forces in an emergency by conducting a draft using a list of young men's names gathered through the registration process.

Young men are required to register within 30 days of their 18th birthday. To be in full compliance with the law, a man turning 18 should register during the period of time beginning 30 days before until 30 days after his 18th birthday (a 60-day window). Late registrations are accepted, but not once a man reaches age 26. Men who do not register within the 60-day window are technically in violation of the law and should register as soon as possible.

Selective Service and Trans Men
Transsexuals are exempt from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, and would thus most likely also be exempted from a draft should one be initiated. However, that does not necessarily mean that FTM transsexuals should simply ignore the registration process.

For a trans man, problems with registration status can arise if he is interested in receiving federally-funded student financial aid (like Pell Grants, Work Study, or National Direct Student Loans), working in a federal job, receiving Federal Job Training, or if he is a non-citizen who took up residence in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 25 and is eventually hoping to attain U.S. citizenship. All of these situations will require you to report on your Selective Service status. If you are a male who has never registered with Selective Service, federal aid, training, or jobs may be denied to you.

For a trans man between the ages of 18 and 25, whether or not he registers will largely have to do with whether or not the government considers him male. There is no "official" policy as to the registration process for transsexuals. With regard to Selective Service, the government appears to deal primarily with the sex markers that appear on their own official documents (such as on your Social Security records, driver's license, or passport), and the law states that "male[s]... between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to register with Selective Service."

If you are considered male by any government entity (such as on your Social Security records, driver's license, or passport), then it would be wise to register with Selective Service (especially if you plan on receiving federal financial aid or hope to become a U.S. citizen). Some states automatically register males of eligible age when they apply for a driver's license. Should a draft arise, you would most likely be exempted from military service as a transsexual. This is similar to the situation of men who have certain physical disabilities-- even if their disabilities may eventually disqualify them from serving, they still must register between the ages of 18 and 25, and would then be exempted later should a draft arise.

If your government-issued documentation lists you as female (such as your Social Security records, driver's license, or passport), then you do not have to register.

For a trans man who was born after December 31, 1959, is 26 years of age or older and is considered male by a government entity (such as your Social Security records, driver's license, or passport, as explained above), he can no longer register with Selective Service, but he can obtain a letter explaining that he was exempt from having registered. In order to get this letter, you must get a form from Selective Service called the "Status Information Letter" or "SIL." This letter can be obtained from the Selective Service web site ( or by calling 847-688-6888 (TTY: 847-688-2567). There is a section on the form that deals specifically with transsexual status.

Once you have submitted this form and any necessary documentation, you'll get a letter from Selective Service that states you are were not required to be registered. This letter will not refer to your transsexual status; it will simply state that you are exempt from registration. Keep this letter in your files.

But what if my official gender markers are mixed?
For many trans men, the sex/gender recorded on "official" files can vary. For example, a trans male student in college might be listed as male on all of his school records and school ID, but as female on his driver's license and in his Social Security records. When he goes to obtain federal financial aid, problems may arise if there are data mismatches between the school and government records, particularly due to the Selective Service issue. Depending on the knowledge and sensitivity of the school loan officer dealing with his case, this could cause problems with obtaining financial aid, as well as potentially difficult interactions.

If your government-assigned gender markers are mixed and you find yourself in a situation where this causes trouble with Selective Service issues (or other disputes over identity), you may wish to obtain a "carry letter" to help alleviate such difficulties. A carry letter is an informal name for a document, usually signed by a medical professional, that declares and explains your transsexual status. While not a perfect solution, a carry letter can be produced to explain why there may be more than one official gender marker associated with your records.

As we move into an increasingly digitized era, electronic "identity" records from multiple sources are frequently checked against one another, and mismatches in any field-- including sex-- can sometimes cause glitches and problems. Unfortunately, there is no one quick fix for this, as each office that handles personal data may have a different way of dealing with mismatches. The best we can do when such problems arise is to be persistent in trying to solve any problems, seek help and advice from those who advocate for trans people on these issues, and press for change if we are treated unfairly. You may want to keep a log of all dates and details of phone conversations, including the first and last names of the people you have spoken to. Problems of mismatched records-- or multiple records that exist for the same person (which is very common if you've changed your name and gender)-- can often take weeks, months, or even years to resolve. Ask to speak to a supervisor if you feel you are not getting enough information from any specific office, and check back until the problem is resolved.

Keep in mind that "official" policies concerning transsexual people's legal status as male or female are constantly changing and being questioned in courts of law. This page provides practical information based on careful consideration of current policies and laws, but this page should not be considered legal advice, nor should it be considered to be reflective of official Selective Service policies.

To find out more about Selective Service, visit their web site at, or call them at 847-688-6888 (TTY: 847-688-2567).