If you're transgendered, you already know that there are a lot of daily challenges that go along with having a gender identity that doesn't match your biological gender. Unfortunately, even if you undergo gender-reassignment surgery, you may still face an indefinite struggle as you try to go about collecting new identification, such as a birth certificate and driver's license.
This is what you should know.
The state determines whether or not you can change your birth certificate.
Whether or not you can have your gender changed on your birth certificate depends on which state you were born in.
For example, Caitlyn Jenner, who was born Bruce Jenner in Mount Kisco, NY, will be able to have her birth certificate changed whether or not she decides to complete a physical sex-reassignment. That's because the laws of New York recently changed to allow transgendered individuals to amend their gender on their birth certificates without actually undergoing full sex-reassignment procedures.
If she had been born in Colorado, however, she would be required to actually have sex-reassignment surgery in order to change her gender on her birth certificate. Had she been born in Ohio, her birth certificate wouldn't be changed even with surgery.
You can get your Social Security card and Veterans Health Administration card changed.
Until recently, the Social Security Administration would only change your gender identification in its records if the state allowed your birth record to be changed. However, in 2013, SSA revised its rules to equal that of the Veteran's Administration.
For both agencies, all you need to do is present a birth certificate or passport reflecting the change, or a physician's statement that you have had appropriate clinical treatment for your gender transition - actual surgery is not required.
A legal name change is usually the most easily accomplished task.
Technically, common law allows you to change your name simply through usage - that's traditionally how a newly married woman would adopt and begin using her husband's last name. However, because of rising concerns with identity theft and terrorism, it is generally advisable to go through the process of having your name legally changed.
Changing your name legally is accomplished by filing a petition in the probate court of the county in which you live. Each state has its own rules and residency requirements regarding name changes, so consult with an attorney in your area in order to learn the local procedures.
Having your personal paperwork match the gender you identify with is important for many reasons. On an emotional level, it helps complete your sense of identity. On a public level, it preserves your privacy and also allows you to go about everyday activities like opening a bank account or applying for a job without worrying that you'll have to answer a lot of unnecessary (and intrusive) questions. Because the laws are constantly changing, contact an attorney from a firm like McKone & Unruh in your area for more information as you make your transition on paper complete.