I received my new Drivers License today which means that I’m officially a doctor certified, government recognized woman! It also means I’m done with phase 1 of changing my name and gender marker. But you wouldn’t believe how complex the steps to get there can be. Here’s what it takes in Washington.
First I had to research the process and figure out which dependencies were built in so that I could get the necessary documents at the correct government office in the right order. Then I had to go to my doctor to get the required letters and signatures.
Step one was going to the local County Courthouse and filing a Petition for Name Change which had to be submitted by 11 am if I wanted a same-day hearing and I had to pay $215 in cash to get the 4 certified copies I would need later on. Then I had to come back at 1:15 to have a judge have me attest on the record that I wasn’t changing my name to commit fraud or escape debt. Then I waited around in the lobby while my documents were processed.
Once I had the name change, I was able to submit my passport renewal in the same office but I nearly made the mistake of filling out the renewal form because that’s what the online steps indicate if you say you are changing your name. In order to find the correct steps you have to find the deeply hidden page on how to change your gender which tells you to submit the application for a NEW passport (Form DS11) in person and means you can’t use the online wizard completely (you have to tell it you don’t have a former passport and then correct it by hand after you print) or submit by mail. I also had to be prepared with a new passport photo which cost me $15, a letter from my physician certifying that I had medically transitioned, and pay $145 in the form of 2 checks to submit along with my previous passport which means I can’t fly abroad until the new one arrives.
Then I proceeded to the local Social Security office where I waited for an hour in a crowded lobby full of armed officers to submit my Application for a Social Security Card showing the correct gender which required me to show my court order along with another copy of the letter from my doctor certifying my medical transition. Luckily that process was free.
Then I proceeded to the Department of Licensing to update my Drivers License only to find out that to update an Enhanced ID (necessary for flying soon), I needed to wait for the new Social Security Card to arrive in the mail. So I came back a week later and waited in line a second time to submit yet another Change of Gender Designation Form with my physician’s signature along with another copy of the court order and a $10 fee.
Luckily for my Birth Certificate, I was able to mail in the Request to Change Sex Designation on a Birth Certificate for an Adult which had to be notarized but luckily doesn’t require a doctor to sign anything now in Washington. I did have to pay another $20 by check if I wanted to get a copy however.
All told, this is how much effort it took:
- Research Time: 3 hours
- Number of Offices: 4
- Wait Time in Lobbies: 2 hours
- Cost: $425
Now I get to move to phase 2 where I contact all the various places that have my old name such as banks, medical providers, online accounts, etc. to get them to update my name and gender as well. I’m exhausted just thinking about it!
If you would like to help support my transition costs, you can donate at https://www.gofundme.com/f/haven-gender-confirmation-treatments
One thought on “What it takes to change your government gender”
You’re doing everything better than I have. For expediency’s sake, I have done a lot of the name change, but not so much with the gender marker. I ran into a big problem because the woman at the social security office marked me as female when I was setting everything up for social security and medicare. I didn’t have the necessary documentation to be “officially” female at the time, but I guess I must have had one of those rare passing moments with the woman who was looking at me through the bulletproof security glass. I ended up losing my Medicare for a while, until I finally convinced the fourth person I talked to that it would have been impossible for me to declare a gender change without the proper documentation, and that it was that woman’s fault for checking me off.
In truth, I do not see the need for a gender marker on anything. If I can present myself any way I please, and my picture ID shows me that way, that’s all anybody needs in order to ID me. Other than for statistical purposes, the gender on a birth certificate doesn’t mean much, either. It’s pretty clear, by now, that it’s a 50/50 split, and trans would balance out between mtf and ftm.
When I went to court for my name change, the judge was so great. Instead of calling out my dead name, she just motioned for me to approach the bench, and asked me all of the legal questions privately. Then she made a little speech to everybody about how rare it was for her to rule on a case that was so positive and affirming, and that had no losers. She finished by introducing me to the full courtroom, much like is done at a wedding, using my new full name. I left the courtroom to a round of applause, and it was all I could do to hold back the tears.
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