Being trans and gender non-conforming looks, sounds, feels, tastes, and smells different for everyone. As we’ve mentioned in other sections, some folx transition, while others do not, and those who do decide to change things up transition on a spectrum. Everybody’s process is different, and despite Hollywood and the media’s best attempts to convey otherwise, there is no one transgender experience.
Keeping all of that in mind, there are some similarities and commonalities. Some people take HRT and pursue surgery, other folx buy a new wardrobe, and some people decide to pursue legal action (but not usually in a suing somebody sort of way, although that has happened).
Trans and GNC folx seek to change their legal information for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to: safety, lessening gender dysphoria, affirming their gender identity, and because sometimes parents don’t pick the best names. Whatever the reason, there are a plethora of steps in the process for getting all of one’s legal documents to match their chosen name and gender identity.
According to a 2015 survey conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality, only 11% of trans and GNC folx surveyed had correct names and gender markers on all of their documents. The same survey found that over two thirds of those surveyed (68%) didn’t have the correct name or gender marker on any of their documents.
Changing legal documents is a pain in the tuchus. It costs money, takes a lot of work, and people often run into complications. That being said, for some folx, changing legal documents is an essential process in their transition. Every state has its own set of quirky laws, some of which are uber progressive, while others are transphobic throwbacks to the 1800s.
Either way, if changing legal documents is important to you or your loved-one, we’ve got you covered. Check out the Name Change and Legal Documents tabs and this Trans Youth Handbook, created by Harvard, for more information.