When someone changes gender, he or she typically begins using a different name that matches the preferred gender. However, if you have changed your gender, it is important to make your name change legal so you can use your chosen name on all important documents, such as your driver’s license, Social Security card, birth certificate, passport and others.

When these documents do not accurately reflect your identity, you may encounter difficulties when trying to prove your identity. When these documents appropriately reflect your identity, you can prevent many of the potential difficulties that could arise while applying for jobs, traveling or other circumstances when these documents must be presented as proof of your identity.

How to get started

The first step in this process is changing your legal name through a court order. This process begins when you submit a petition to the court. When you do this, you will set a hearing date, which will be the date when the court will consider your petition.

Before your hearing date, you must publish notice of your name change in the newspaper for your county. It must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks.

During your hearing, a judge may or may not ask you questions about your name change. These questions are to make sure you are not changing your name for fraudulent purposes. When you get your judgement, it may be beneficial to get several certified copies because you may need them as you change your various identity documents.

Changing state identification

When you change your name on your driver’s license, you must visit a Secretary of State facility. There you will turn in your incorrect license, provide identification and submit the court order.

To apply for an updated birth certificate, you must fill out an Affidavit and Certificate of Correction Request and have it notarized. You will also need to submit to the Illinois Department of Health a photo ID and a Declaration of Gender Transition, which must be signed by a licensed health care professional.

Changing Social Security records

To change your gender and name in Social Security records, you will need an updated driver’s license or U.S. passport. Depending on the first document you provide, you may also need an amended birth certificate, the court order or medical certification of treatment for gender transition. These documents can be mailed with an application for a Social Security card to your local Social Security office.

There are numerous steps in the process of legally changing your name. The more documents you have, the more steps there may be. However, it is important to make sure all your identifying documents accurately reflect who you are.