Transition Documentation for Transsexuals

In the State of California


April 16, 2002


This paper addresses the basic steps in transitioning from male to female or female to male, and the typical documentation changes associated with each step.  The procedures for obtaining the documentation are also provided, based on the writer's experience with the federal government and with The State of California.  Details vary from State to State but should approximate the procedures explained, herein, therefore this document is only meant for the individual residing within The State of California, and is not intended to provide any legal guidance to any individual residing in any other State other than The State of California.

When an individual makes the decision to Acome out of the closet@, and confront their Auninvited dilemma@, (their transsexuality), a whole host of issues confronts this person, one of the most daunting of which is the Question: AHow do I explain this to anyone who needs to see my ID?@  (i.e.: store clerks, law enforcement, medical personnel, or anyone else who needs to verify your gender for any host of reasons)

You will have to decide if you can live with the 'inappropriate' gender and name marked on your ID is something you can live with until you have undergone gender reassignment surgery.  For some individuals this is not so bad, clerks rarely check ID for check writing, all they want is your driver's license number.  A person can go for years without clerk's noticing that the address on a person=s checks are different than the address on their driver's license.  To circumvent this, have your driver's license number printed on your checks, then the clerks will only check that your picture matches your face, and that will be that.  However, for most individuals the risk of embarrassment from the inappropriate Aouting@ at the check stand is not worth the risk, let alone the questions raised and embarrassment one endures from the insensitive law enforcement officer that the individual would have to deal with as a result of a traffic stop.  However the worst case situation arises if the individual is placed under arrest, (thereby leaving the authorities with the daunting issue of where to house the individual who is a transsexual - - with the male or with he female population?)  Therefore it is strongly advised that if you are serious about taking the most difficult, and stressful and important decision in your life, one which will forever irrevocably change your life forever, you must start the process of legally changing your identity on all of your documentation now.

Due to the importance of the documentation process, the areas covered herein are only the Abasic@ steps that must be covered by the transsexual who is in the process of transitioning.  There are of course other areas that are individual specific, and as to those areas, the individual should consult an attorney regarding those specific areas.  These areas may arise in matters of probate law, child custody and visitation issues, estate planning, real estate law (and related tax ramifications if any), etc.


1.         Old Gender/Old Name

2.         HRT Letter from your Gender Counselor

B AI recommend Suzie Q for estrogen therapyYY@

3.         Name Change AThe court changes John Doe=s name to Suzie Q@  Get female driver=s license

4.         Social Security Card Change

5.         Drivers License Change

6.         Real Life Test

B  Change work and financial records

7.         SRS Letter from Two Gender Counselors, one of whom is PhD level

B  AI recommend Suzie Q for SRS...@

8.         SRS/New Gender

B  AI have performed sex reassignment surgery on Suzie QY@
B  Change the rest of your documentation


1.         Obtain Petition and additional forms for Name Change from County Court Clerk, (Judicial Counsel Form Numbers NC-100, NC-110, NC-121, NC-130)

2.         Obtain a court date by filing the Petition and Order to Show Cause with the Clerk of the Court along with the appropriate fees.

3.         Publish the Order to Show Cause for the required amount of time, and then file the Proof of Service with the Court Clerk before the hearing date or bring it with you to your hearing to provide the to judge.

4.         Appear before Judge in open court.

5.         Judge signs order.

6.         Pay the clerk for any fees for certified copies of the name change and then record the order with County Recorder=s office.

7.         File the application for a new birth certificate along with a certified copy of the court order and the required fees with The Department of Health Services.

In the United States there is an established common law right for any person to change his/her name.  It gives the person the freedom to be known by whatever name they wish, within certain wide limits.  Technically, it is not necessary for you to change your name by court order.  Theoretically, all you have to do is publicly hold yourself out as whatever name you wish to be identified as.  This is the common law approach, originating from 15th century England, and has been in this country since the beginning.  However, because our society is bureaucratic and many custodians of official records have developed narrow procedures designed to protect themselves from legal action, changing your name on Official documents without a court order is often difficult and sometimes impossible.

If you want to change your name, you will have the best results by following the judicial procedure set by law.  California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 1275 et seq. provides for a judicial procedure to legally change your name.  While the procedure is specific and can take up to two months to complete, judicial granting of a change of name is almost automatic.  Once you obtain your decree, you may change or amend official documents to reflect that of your new name.  All states have a reciprocal agreement, so that your new legal name will be recognized in all states.

The following is the procedure for obtaining a court order decree of name change. You may hire an attorney, or save yourself a few hundred dollars and do it yourself.  If someone is likely to contest or object to your name change, you will definitely need an attorney to represent you.  The name change procedure must be initiated in the Superior Court of the county in which you live.  The procedure is almost identical in every county.

If you have a target date for going full-time, you should find out how long it will take to get a court date. Get a court date that is six or seven weeks from the date you file the petition.  Once you have your court order in hand, you should plan on additional time to get your Social Security card and Drivers License changed.

It is recommend to get a court order for name change before you do anything else. You will not run into any problems if you get this document first, since everyone accepts it as valid proof.  Other documents will not be adequate in some cases.  Some people have had a very difficult time with this step.  There are four basic steps:

1.         Start the process

This is done by filing a Petition for Change of Name along with a Order to Show Cause for Change of Name with the clerk of the court in the county in which you reside.  Call your county government offices to find out where you need to go.  Plan ahead! If you have a target date for going full-time, you should find out how long it will take to get a court date.

Once you have your court order in hand, you should plan on additional time to get your Social Security card changed. Most report getting their new one in about a week from the day they applied.

You must submit three forms, (a) an Order to Show Cause for Change of Name (NC-120), (b) a Petition for Change of Name (NC-110)  and (c), a Attachment to Petition for Change of Name (NC-110) to the clerk in the County Courthouse.  These forms can be obtained at the courthouse or on line from the web site for the Court located in your County, or at http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/forms.cgi.  You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the forms available on line.

Name change forms must be accompanied by a filing fee.  Remember the fee for filing the Petition and Order to Show Cause is different for each County.  This information is also available on the internet at http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/trial.  You may have a bit of a wait.  Stand in line for New Civil Filings.  If you can=t afford to pay the filing fee, you may obtain a hardship exemption by filling out and filing the appropriate application (Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs, Order on Application for Waiver of Court Fees and Costs, and Notice of Waiver of Court Fees and Costs [982(a)(17), 982(a)(18), and 982(a)(19) respectively]).

Once the forms for the name change have been filed and the appropriate fees paid, the court will set a hearing date on your Order to Show Cause, not less than four weeks or more than eight weeks from the filing date.

2.         Take care of pre-hearing requirements

In California, you are required to publish a legal notice of your name change daily for 4 consecutive weeks prior to your court date.  The Order to Show Cause must be published in a newspaper of general circulation. Four weekly publications constitutes sufficient publication of the order.  The proof of publication must be filed with the court.

Most publishers will file the proof for you.   The fee for filing the Proof of Service varies with each county.

3.         Show up on your assigned court date.

On the date set for your hearing, plan to arrive about 15 minutes early at the department assigned by the clerk at the time you filed. Check in with the clerk, then be seated. The court may have several items on its calendar, which may include a number of name changes. At some point your name will be called. When it is, rise, walk to the bench and announce your appearance to the judge. In some instances, there will be no judge and the court will only have name changes on its calendar. A deputy sheriff will give you instructions on what to do from that point. This usually consists of making sure all paper work is in order and submitting it to the court clerk.

Upon completion of the hearing, the court will issue an order that the name change is B granted. Certified copies of the decree will be available from the court after one week of your court date. In order to obtain the certified copy and you will need to do the following:

4.         Get any certified copies you will need

Your court file will contain the original decree signed by the court; have a valid drivers license or state I.D. card and your case file number and go to the file room.  After receiving your file, take the file to the certification desk, (or filing clerk) and request a minimum of 3 certified copies of the order changing your name.  The charge for a certified copy will vary from county to county but usually runs $6.00 to $10.00 each.  You should obtain at least three B copies. One for the county registrar & recorder, one for the state to amend your birth certificate and one copy for your records. One certified copy must be filed with the:

State Department of Health Services
Office of Vital Records
P.O. Box 730241
Sacramento, CA 94244-0241
(916) 445-2684

in Sacramento along with the Application for Amendment of Birth Certificate and its appropriate fee within 30 days from the date of the decree.

For those born in within the state of California, a certified copy of the decree changing name is required when you want to amend the original birth certificate to reflect your new name.


Checklist: (items needed will vary by state)

$                   Completed petition and copies
$                   Money for legal notice publication (may accept only cash and certified checks)
$                   Notarized affidavits acknowledging birth name
$                   Proof of legal notice publication
$                   Money for court costs (may accept only cash and certified checks)
$                   Photo identification with old name (just in case)
$                   Letter from your therapist (just in case)

REMEMBER: You'll need to send certified copies to some financial institutions and government agencies, which will NOT accept photocopies or notarized copies.


Social Security has no established procedure for gender changes, so you will be at the mercy of whomever processes your name change form. However-there's no rule against it, either.  One thing that is cast in stone, is that The Department of Social Security will NOT change your gender on their records until after you have had your gender reassignment surgery.  This will cause you problems in the State of California as stated when it comes time for renewal of your driver=s license.  (To be addressed later)

After getting a court order for name change, it is recommend to get your Social Security card changed next. This section assumes you already have a Social Security number and are merely changing the name and (hopefully) sex. If not, this may not apply to you.  It usually takes about a week to get a new card.  You will probably need your Social Security switched over to change any employment and financial information.

The process is simple.

1.         Fill out the form (Form SS-5)

You will need evidence showing your old and new names. Social Security requires original documents or certified copies made by the county clerk or other official whose duty it is to keep the records (hence the extra copies you got). Photocopies and notarized copies are not acceptable.

Common acceptable documents include:

1.         Court order for name change (this is my recommendation)
        Clinic, doctor, or hospital records (You might be able to use a letter from your therapist, for example, but to be safe and official, get the court order.)
        Driver's license (if you can do this prior to Social Security in your state)

The following are usually used to establish former identity:

$                   School ID card, record, or report card
$                   Marriage or divorce record
$                   Military records
$                   Adoption records
$                   Church membership or confirmation record
$                   Health insurance card
$                   Insurance policy
$                   U.S. government or state government employee ID card
$                   U.S. passport

The Department of Social Security will NOT accept a birth certificate or hospital record as proof of your identity. They will accept other documents if they have enough information to identify you. Remember, they must see original documents or copies certified by the county clerk or other official who keeps the record.

You write in your chosen name and below that your name at birth. If you have a certified copy of your court order, you can just mail it in. Otherwise, you may need to present original documentation or certified copies in person.

2.         Wait for your new card to come in the mail


You will probably need to present some or all of the following ID:

$                   Birth certificate (old name)
$                   Social security card (new name)
$                   Court Order for Name Change (new Name)
$                   Two forms of other ID, showing your new name, such as utility bills or medical records.  (Just in case.)

1.                  Submit DMV Form DL 328, Change of Name and Gender, with input by licensed California Physician and $12 for Temporary License in new name and gender.

Note: the Permanent License will not be issued until your name in the DMV and Social Security records match. The sex flag is not compared at this time. However, it is compared at the time your drivers license comes up for renewal and will cause you a problem later on if you have not completed your surgery.

2.                  Change name with Social Security. -- Bring old Social Security card, prooff of old and new identities, & temporary driver=s license.

3.                  With the name match, DMV will issue you a Permanent License.


1.         Real Life Test: living and working in your new gender.

B          Change company records to new gender to match Social Security
B          If you are a government contractor or employee, update (Industrial) Security Clearance: Show company security officer

2.         Certified copy court order for name change

3.         Show certified copy of court order for name change

B Change name on bank accounts, mutual funds, brokerage accounts, etc.


California will change both name and sex, and will issue a new birth certificate rather than amend the old one. California Health and Safety Code, '' 103425-103445, state: "A petition for the issuance of a new birth certificate in those cases shall be filed with the superior court of the county where the petitioner resides."  These code sections further state as follows:

103425.  Whenever a person born in this state has undergone surgical treatment for the purpose of altering his or her sexual characteristics to those of the opposite sex, a new birth certificate may be prepared for the person reflecting the change of gender and any change of name accomplished by an order of a court of this state, another state, the District of Columbia, or any territory of the United States.  A petition for the issuance of a new birth certificate in those cases shall be filed with the superior court of the county where the petitioner resides.

103430.  (a) The petition shall be accompanied by an affidavit of a physician documenting the sex change, and a certified copy of the court order changing the applicant's name (if applicable).
(b) The petition shall be heard at the time appointed by the court and objections may be filed by any person who can, in those objections, show to the court good reason against the change of birth certificate.
  At the hearing, the court may examine on oath the petitioner, and any other person having knowledge of facts relevant to the application.  At the conclusion of the hearing the court shall make an order to issue a new certificate, or dismissing the petition, as to the court may seem right and proper.
(c) A certified copy of the decree of the court ordering the new birth certificate, shall within 30 days from the date of the decree, be filed with the State Registrar.
  Upon receipt thereof together with the fee prescribed by Section 103725, the State Registrar shall establish a new birth certificate for the applicant.
(d) The new birth certificate shall indicate the sex of the registrant as it has been surgically altered and shall reflect any change of name specified in the application if accompanied by a court order, as prescribed by Section 103425.
  No reference shall be made in the new birth certificate, nor shall its form in any way indicate, that it is not the original birth certificate of the registrant.

103435.  In lieu of separate proceedings, a single petition for a change of name and issuance of a new birth certificate reflecting a change of gender may be filed with the superior court.  With respect to such a petition, the court shall follow the procedure set forth in Title 8 (commencing with Section 1275) of Part III of the Code of Civil Procedure.  A certified copy of the decree of the court issued pursuant to this section shall within 30 days be filed with both the Secretary of State and the State Registrar.  Upon its receipt, the State Registrar shall establish a new birth certificate as provided in this article.

103440.  The new birth certificate shall supplant any birth certificate previously registered for the applicant and shall be the only birth certificate open to public inspection.  The application and supporting affidavit shall be filed with the original record of birth, that shall remain as a part of the records of the State Registrar.  All records and information specified in this article, other than the newly issued birth certificate, shall be available only upon written request of the registrant or an order of a court of record.

When a new birth certificate is established under this article, the State Registrar shall transmit copies of the newly established birth certificate for filing to the local registrar and the county recorder whose records contain copies of the original certificate, who shall forward the copies of the original certificate to the State Registrar for filing with the original certificate, if it is practical for him or her to do so.  If it is impractical for him or her to forward the copy to the State Registrar, he or she shall effectually seal a cover over the copy of the original certificate in a manner as not to deface or destroy the copy and forward a verified statement of his or her action to the State Registrar.  Thereafter the information contained in the record shall be available only upon written request of the registrant or on order of a court of record.

103445.  The State Registrar shall transmit a certified copy of a birth certificate newly established under this article to the registrant without additional charge.

What all the above legalese says is that you will need: 1) an original certified letter from your SRS surgeon, and 2) an original or certified copy of the court order for your name change. If you do not have a court order for your name change, you may petition the court for change of name at the same time you petition for the new birth certificate.  Once you have the letter from your SRS Surgeon is the time for filing for the Order for a new birth certificate.

You will have to file the Petition for an Order for Issuance of New Birth Certificate in the County in which you live. Fees and procedures are determined by the superior court of the county receiving the petition.  While it is possible for an individual to handle the petition process by themselves it is strongly advisable that an attorney be retained for this process so that it is correctly handled and presented to the court.   Either way, once the court has granted the order for the issuance of the new birth certificate you will need to contact the following agency:

State Department of Health Services
Office of Vital Records
P.O. Box 730241
Sacramento, CA 94244-0241
(916) 445-2684

This department with The State of California, has information at the following internet address: http://www.dhs.ca.gov/hisp/chs/OVR/ordercert.htm.  This is where you file the application for a new birth certificate, and provides official copies of California birth certificates for about $13.00 and provides application forms to amend or get a new birth certificate for$20.00. You will need to call (916) 557-6076 to order the packet for the court ordered amendment for gender to the birth certificate.  It will take approximately 10 months for the Department to process your application, (there are no exceptions), and you will receive one certified new birth certificate.  Additional copies are available for an additional $13.00 each.

I strongly urge you to amend your birth certificate as soon as you are done with SRS.  For the following reasons:

1.                  It's fresh on your mind
                  The necessary documents will be handy
                  After SRS, you get sort of burned out with transition matters, and it's easy to put it off for a long time.

Here's why you should do it:

1.                  Marriage and other legal documents. Some TS women have run into legal troubles when trying to get a marriage license, or even long after they've been married because of discrepancies on their birth certificate, especially sex designation. In one Texas case, a widow was denied the right to collect damages in her husband's wrongful death suit, and her unchanged out of state birth certificate was used as evidence against her.

2.                  Travel: if you do not have a U.S. Passport, it is sometimes possible to travel to certain parts of the world using an original birth certificate. If you plan to do this, your name and sex should match your birth certificate.

3.                  Stealth/privacy: One less record of your old name floating around. For those who are living stealth, it's possible that this information can come back to haunt them.


To get your name and sex changed permanently on a valid passport, you will need a court-ordered name change and a notarized letter from your surgeon showing you have had sex reassignment surgery.

Note: without a notarized surgery letter, your passport will either say "Male" on the first page or will say "Female" with a notation in the back that says you are transsexual.

The U.S. State Department has a list of forms you will need:

DSP-19: Passport Amendment/Validation Application

When you have changed your name, a passport will be issued in that name if you present a court order changing your name.  When you have not obtained a court ordered name change, a passport can still be issued in the assumed name only when the following is submitted:

a)         Affidavits executed by two or more persons attesting that they have known you by both names and that you have used the assumed name exclusively for at least the past 5 years;
        Documentary evidence such as school records, military records, employment records, tax records, or other public records; and
        Identification in the assumed name only.

If you meet either of the above requirements you have a passport issued your new name.

In addition, you may have the sex designation in you passport changed from that indicated on your birth certificate if you submit a certified letter from your doctor which states that you are a post-operative transsexual or a pre-operative transsexual who is in the final stages of treatment (Real Life Test) prior to surgery. If you are post-operative, a full validity passport will be issued.  If you are pre-operative, a passport valid for one year will be issued.

If you are pre-operative you must show extenuating circumstances, or a passport will not be extended until you submit a doctor's letter stating that the surgery has been performed. The reason for this is that a pre-operative transsexual must be in the final stages of their real life test prior to surgery before a passport will be issued with the new sex designated on the new passport.

This policy is based on 22 U.S.C. 211a which grants the Secretary of State authority to issue passports "under such rules as the President shall designate . . . ".  Executive Order No. 11295, 31 Federal Register 10603 (1966) designated the Secretary of State to exercise authority conferred upon by the President by Section 211a.  In addition, 22 U. S.C. 2658 provides that "the Secretary of State may promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the functions . . . vested in the Secretary of State . . . ".

There is no regulation which specifically deals with the sex designation in the passport. It is the policy of the U.S. State Department that the passport is a document of identity as well as citizenship and is to be highly regarded as such both domestically and abroad.  Accordingly, the passport must be issued to the individual with data which best identifies the bearer.  U.S. State Department believes that a pre-operative transsexual whose treatment has progressed to the final stages prior to surgery can, in most cases, be best identified by the new gender identification.  The passport is limited in validity to one year because, until surgery is completed, issuance with the new sex designation is an accommodation.

To modify/re-new an old passport:

1.         Fill out form DSP-19 in your new name and gender and include:

a.         Your old passport

b.         New passport photos

c.         Certified court order for name change

d.         Surgeon=s SRS letter, (if you are post operative).  Please note, that if you are not post operative and are obtaining a passport, you will be only issued a temporary passport.  In this case, your passport will either say "Male" on the first page or will say "Female" with a notation in the back that says you are transsexual.

For first-time passport:

1.         Fill out form DSP-19 in your new name and your new gender and include

2.         Certified copy of your new birth certificate

3.         New passport photos

Passport Fees
Effective February 1, 1998

Routine Services (Form DS-11)*

Passport Service

Passport Fee*

Execution Fee*

Total Fees

Age 16 and older




Under Age 16




*Note: When applying at other than one of the 13 Regional Passport Agencies and paying by check or money order, these fees must be paid separately because the $15.00 Execution Fee is retained locally by one of the 4,500 designated passport application acceptance facilities across the U.S. (Regional Passport Agencies also accept Visa, Master Card, Discover, and American Express. Acceptance facilities may or may not accept credit cards.)

Passport Renewal (Form DS-82)

Passport Renewal

Passport Fee

Total Fees

You may use this form if your previous passport:

1. Was issued when you were 16 or older.
2. Was issued in the last 15 years.
3. Is not damaged.
4. Is submitted with your application.




When the U.S. State Department is finished processing your passport it will be mailed to you.  Complete passport information is available at:



1.         Department of Veteran Affairs

B Regional and local hospital/clinic will change name based on court order and change gender based on SRS letter

2.         Department of Defense (Retirees)

B Change name for ID card, DEERS, & pay based on court order
B For gender change, petition Board for Correction of Naval Records (or the equivalent board for your service), using a DD Form 149 with
B Other supporting documentation, such as new birth certificate and/or new passport

B Gender Notes:

1.         DoD will NOT change or amend the DD-214, but the BCNR will direct the issuance of a "Statement of Service" in the new name and gender.
        If retired military, use the BCNR decision or the Statement of Service to change the DEERS records at any military base Pass and ID Office. You must also change the DFAS Columbus Retired Pay Records through your service's Personnel Command in order to avoid the Pay Records master tape monthly update from changing your DEERS records back to your old gender.
        If married, trying to change your gender in DEERS results in an apparent same sex marriage. Local Pass and ID personnel cannot do this and must call DEERS Research and Analysis to override the computer.

4.         Federal Aviation Agency

B Change pilot=s license name based on court order
B Change aviation medical and license gender based on SRS letter and surgical records, therapists records, and psychiatric evaluation


1.         When you or your spouse die, there may be questions about the legality of your marriage for insurance or Social Security benefits.

Recommendation: Seal a set of dated documents that can trace you back to your original identity and show that the timing of transition resulted in a legal male/female marriage:

B Original birth certificate
B Original Social Security card
B Marriage Certificate
B Name change document
B SRS letter
B New birth certificate