How to Get A Name and Gender Change in Texas
CW: talk of gender dysphoria and bureaucratic difficulties for the transgender community.
This stuff is really hard to talk about. If I’m being honest, it was not a fun experience and I was thrown so many curve balls by Denton county. Regardless, I’m here to help! I want to make this process so much less painful than it was for me, for hopefully someone else. I’ve comprised a piece with some information, details, and other things to keep in mind when you are trying to legally change your name and gender. This isn’t a complete guide, but I will provide links and resources at the end that are hopefully more thorough.
There are a few things to keep in mind before beginning this journey. For starters, the state of Texas at this point does not recognize non-binary, third gender, gender fluid (anything away from the male and female binary) as an acceptable entry on state identification documents. This guide will really only be useful for trans people who wish to have their identification changed to male or female. Any part of this process which asks you to pay for court fees can be waived via a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs. You must be of low income, be on government benefits, or be able to express the inability to pay for the court fees to be eligible. Moreover, you also have to have a U.S. citizenship to obtain a legal name and gender marker change.
After dealing with this frustrating process, I hope this in some way makes you feel you are not alone in this.
1.) If you were born in Texas, you can have these things changed in any county and it will be recognized by the entire state of Texas. You should - no, need to get this case filed in Austin, Texas - Travis county. Any other county will drag its nonexistent feet and it will probably never get done. Fuck bureaucracies.
2.) You must first fill out two forms: a Petition to Change the Name and Sex/Gender Identifier of an Adult and the Final Order to Change the Name and Sex /Gender Identifier of an Adult. No mistakes, no white out. These small things come in handy with an attorney if you have access to one. You can print these forms from the Travis County website.
3.) You need to obtain a letter from your doctor/an endocrinologist/mental health specialist that notes your diagnosis of gender dysphoria, that it is within your best interest to receive this change and that you are being “properly” treated for your diagnosis. If you are trying to have your gender marker and name changed, that last part basically means you will need to prove you are on HRT to apply. It is advised that you need to be prescribed with puberty blockers/estrogen/testosterone, etc. for at least a few months. This isn’t written in stone or anything, but I would definitely recommend waiting at least four months on HRT before starting this process. I began HRT with Planned Parenthood. If this is the case for you, then you can call the office and ask them for a letter verifying that you have been on the HRT plan. My letter had to come from a coordinator of the Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas in Austin, TX. It came in the mail within a few weeks time. (This is a bogus rule. You shouldn’t/do not need to be on any hormones or EVER need to get reassignment surgery to be valid in your gender identity.)
4.) You’ll also need to obtain finger prints on card stock, this is important to add because electronic fingerprints will not cut it. You can obtain them from any county, but I would be careful. I tried to get mine from Denton county from the Denton county jail but the women who provide the service deliberately misgendered me, and have been known for being violent towards transgender people. Instead, I got them done by the UNT police department. If your university has a police department, this service is most definitely available to you. Always call ahead and ask what services are available to you and what you will need to bring when you do this.
5.) Keep in mind, this is not a one-step process. After your petition and order are approved by a judge, you still need to get a new social security card, drivers license, amended birth certificate, passport, and of course you have to provide evidence of your name/gender marker change to your school, workplace, doctors offices, bank, and others that I can’t think of at the moment. It’s grueling, but you’ll get there.
6.) If you are a student at the University of North Texas, you can obtain the help of an attorney with the legal student services center on the fourth floor of the student union. Big universities should have this resource available too. The attorney can eFile your petitions and order and notarize them. All you need to do is fill out your information (which is pretty repetitive).
7.) You (yes, you) can eFile these petitions and orders with Travis county in Austin, Texas, once they are approved by a judge, you should receive an email upon approval. You will need to: make sure you scan and upload your fingerprint card, the diagnosis letter, the exhibits (if applicable) along with the Petition. Fill out and upload your proposed Final Order to Change the Name and Sex/Gender Identifier of an Adult. Include instructions in the ‘Comments’ section that you would like your paperwork forwarded to the court for consideration. Bring the original documents with you when meet with the judge. You can eFile your documents here.
8.) The next step would be to appear in court with a prove-up statement. Basically the judge will ask “are you changing your name to run away from the law.” and you will have to say something along the lines of “no your honor, I’m changing it to reflect my male/masculine/female/feminine identity.” and the judge will be like “tight. approved.”
9.) This isn’t a full step by step, but hopefully something which gets you familiar with this process. You can find a link to a step by step which also has a link to the necessary files and other resources for this process in Travis county here: https://lawlibrary.traviscountytx.gov/images/pdf/Gender/TC-FM-GI2-Kit-001-Adult-Gender-Name-Change-Forms-May2018.pdf
Legal and other resources:
A Law Library Reference Attorney can review your forms at the morning case review clinic (10 a.m. to noon, weekdays, at 314 West 11th, #140). (In Travis County)
The University of Texas Law School holds a legal clinic each semester. The clinic volunteers will help you fill out the paperwork. https://law.utexas.edu/probono/projects/special-projects/trans-legal-name-gender-marker-project/.
Trans Equality has a master list of resources. Follow the link and scroll down to Texas: https://transequality.org/issues/resources/trans-legal-services-network-directory
Denton Trans-Cendence (Support group): http://denton-transcendence.weebly.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/dentontranscendence/
Legal services around DFW
Katie Sprinkle, Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 112835
Carrollton, TX 75011
South Central Regional Office
3500 Oak Lawn Avenue, Suite 500
Dallas, TX 75219-6722
Lawyers in Travis County (Information from Transgender Wellness)
CHA Law Group, Christine Henry Andresen
Address: 2003 S Lamar Blvd #3, Austin, TX 78704
Phone: (512) 394-4230
Elizabeth Brenner of Burns Anderson Jury & Brenner, LLP
Address: 4807 Spicewood Springs Road, Bldg 4, Ste 100 Austin, Texas 78755
Phone: (512) 338-5322
Texas Riogrande Legal Aid
Phone intakes: 1-888-988-9996, M-F 8:30am-7:30pm
Free Legal Clinics (Information from Transgender Wellness)
Monday’s evening clinic is at Martin Middle School, 1601 Haskell Street, Austin, TX Wednesday’s advice clinic is at Webb Middle School, 601 East St. Johns Street ATX 1st Tuesday of every month is at the Bastrop Public Library, 1100 Church Street, Bastrop, TX
Name and Gender Marker Resources (Information from Transgender Wellness)
Texas Name and Gender Marker Change Wiki: http://texasnameandgendermarkerchange.com/index.php?title=Texas_Name_and_Gender_Marker_Change
Accompanying facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/239080616277407/
UT name and gender marker project Facebook group:https://www.facebook.com/TexasLawTNGMP/?fref=ts
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Header design by Tori Falcon.