Changing Name and Gender Markers on Legal Documents

Here are several key documents you might need to change your name and gender markers on. Changing each of these documents has slightly different requirements, so we’ll go through each separately.

  • Driver’s License
  • Social Security Card
  • Passport
  • Birth Certificate

Step One: Physician’s Statement of Gender Change

To change your gender marker on several kinds of Indiana documents, a “Physician’s Statement of Gender Change” is required. This can be either:

a) a physician’s signed and dated statement, on letterhead, that includes the language from 140 IAC 7-1.1-3 “[insert customer’s name] successfully underwent all treatment necessary to permanently change [insert customer’s name] gender from [insert prior gender] to [insert new gender].”

AND/OR

b) A “Physician’s Statement of Gender Change” form signed by a physician.

Sex reassignment surgeries are not specifically required to change gender markers in Indiana. You only need to provide a physician’s statement that you have “had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.”

Some folks have reported that despite their written guidelines online, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (see below) asks specifically for their form and doesn’t accept the physician’s statement on letterhead. Other folks have reported that the physician’s letter on letterhead was required by the Social Security office. You may need or want to acquire multiple copies of both.

Step Two: Obtain a Court-Ordered Name & Gender Marker Change

Indiana requires a court order to change your name on your birth certificate for reasons that are unrelated to marriage, divorce or immigration status. You must be 17 years old, not in jail or prison and you can have been convicted of a felony in the last 10 years, or be someone required to register as a sex offender. You may not change your name to avoid creditors.

Legal Name Change via court order in Indiana
This link outlines necessary forms and procedures to petition the court to change your name in the state of Indiana. There are several steps including publishing notice of your name change in the paper prior to the court hearing and having your change notice verified by a notary.

As of 8/10/2017, The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that you are NOT required to publicize your gender marker change, and that the rule that you publicize your name change can also be waived if you argue that publication may put you at risk of harm. You might want to try taking a copy of the appeals ruling with you to court when submitting your change petition and requesting a waiver.

To change an Indiana birth certificate, you will need the court order to change both your name and gender marker, so present the physician’s letter you obtained in step one as a part of the court-ordered name change process. It’s good to have several copies of that referral letter or form.

Once you obtain a certified court order, you can use that order to change your name and gender marker on various legal documents. Be sure to obtain several copies of the court order, as you may need them for various document changes.

For Trans Youth: If the person changing names is under 17, both biological parents listed on the birth certificate have to agree and sign off. (Or both legal guardians) you have to send in proof that the other parents has no custodial or parental rights if that parent is out of the picture. If that parent cannot be found then it is treated almost like an adoption, ads ran in local papers announcing the hearing date for the name change.

Step Three: Changing Documents

Many folks start with changing their driver’s license because that’s the form of ID that most people use every day. Changing your birth certificate and using that amended certificate can help you get other forms updated, but it’s usually not required to do that first if you have the court order from Step One and a Physician’s Statement of Gender Change. Some folks report success in having their Social Security card changed first, and then using that Social Security confirmation letter to change their driver’s license and other ID.

Driver’s Licenses and State IDs

Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV)
This link provides you with the information & forms you will need to in order to make name and gender marker changes to your current identification or driver’s license.

Changing your name on your driver’s license requires one of these:

  • a certificate of court order as outlined in step one
  • or an amended birth certificate showing your change of name

To change your gender marker on your driver’s license you need one of these:

  • A “Physician’s Statement of Gender Change” form signed by a physician
  • or a physician’s signed and dated statement, on letterhead, that includes the language from 140 IAC 7-1.1-3 “[insert customer’s name] successfully underwent all treatment necessary to permanently change [insert customer’s name] gender from [insert prior gender] to [insert new gender].”
  • or an amended birth certificate showing your change of gender marker.

*Note that some people have reported their BMV branch asking for an amended birth certificate to change gender markers. Per the BMV policy, an amended birth certificate is not required if you have a court order and either a physician’s letter on letterhead or the “Physician’s statement of Gender Change” form above.

Birth Certificates

Out of State Birth Certificates

Birth Certificate Changes by state
This information, provided by Lambda Legal, gives details about current guidelines to changing your name and/or gender in all 50 U.S. states.

Indiana Birth Certificates

If you were born in Indiana, you can have your birth certificate amended to reflect your name change. Indiana does not have specific legal language regarding gender marker correction, but will change gender markers on birth certificates when you have a court order to change the gender marker with your name change. (after a recent appeals court ruling clarifying the question.)

According to the IN vital records FAQ:

How can changes be made to a birth certificate?
Please contact the Corrections Section of the ISDH Vital Records office at 317.233.2700 and ask for instructions for correcting the information.

You will need to fill out an application to amend your certificate and submit it along with the certificate of your court ordered name change, this form “Physician’s statement of Gender Change” stating that you need to change your gender marker, a copy of a photo ID with your current mailing address and the appropriate check or money order for applicable fees.

Sex reassignment surgeries are not specifically required to change gender markers. You only need to provide a physician’s statement that you have “had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition.”

More on Indiana’s Website on Birth Certificates and Vital Records

Social Security Cards

Name change with the Social Security Administration
This form details what is necessary to change your name with the Social Security Administration to have a new Social Security card issued.

Gender Marker Change with the Social Security Administration
The table part way down this page indicates what the SSA requires to change the “sex field” on your social security information.

*Note that some people have reported that the Social Security office asked that the Physicians letter required be written and signed on the physician’s letterhead, and have not accepted a stamped or electronic copy of a letter.

Passports

National Center for Transgender Equality: Passports
In June 2010, the State Department announced a new policy to issue passports that reflect a person’s current gender when either a previous passport or other personal documentation presented by an applicant reflects a different gender. Under the new policy, a transgender person can obtain a passport reflecting his or her current gender by submitting a certification from a physician confirming that he or she has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. This policy replaces the Department’s old policy, which required documentation of sex reassignment surgery. In January 2011, the State Department made further improvements to its new policy.

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