Iowa name change for transgender people

Disclaimer: This is legal talk, not legal advice. Laws vary by state, and some of the information discussed on this page may not be applicable in your case. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information and provide it without warranty. Laws change and this information may contain errors and omissions. It is up to you to confirm any information herein by doing your own research.

In June 2003 a reader sent the following:

In 2000, I got my name legally changed via court order method (as Iowa will not honor commonlaw name changes). It's a pretty simple process here:

First, go to the county courthouse where you reside. Get a Certified copy of your birth certificate (it will cost about $10), and submit a Petition for the name change (this will cost about $100):

The petition should be typed or printed in plain text font.

+++

State of Iowa - County of [county of your residence] - District CourtPetitioner: [Put current legal name here ] (petitioning to become
[new name here])
Height:
Weight:
Color of Eyes:
Race:
Sex: [as it appears on your birth certificate]
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth: [Hospital, City, State. As it appears on the birth certificate]
Marital Status:
Children:
Real Property Owned:

Before this court, [Put current legal name here] hereby swears and
deposes in the for of this Verified Petition that the above information
is true and correct and that [he/she, use pronoun according to birth
certificate] hereby petitions the court to change [his/her] name in the
true and legal manner to:

[Put new name here]

The petitioner hereby declares to the following:

1) [His/her] county of residence on this date is [County of residence]
County. [His/Her] official residence is:
[Place your current residence address here, including apartment number,
City, State, and Zip Code]

2) [His/Her residence addresses for the past five (5) years are as
follows:
[Place previous addresses here, including apartment number, City, State,
and Zip Code]

3) All of the identification information required for this petition is
included hereinabove.

4) The reason for the name change indicated above is to more
appropriately reflect the gender identification and personality of the
petitioner.

5) A certified copy of the birth certificate of the petitioner is
attached hereto.In view of the foregoing, it is respectfully requested that the
above-described name change be granted.

[Signature]
[current legal name]
Date:
Notary Public:

+++

Everything except "Notary Public:" needs to be filled out appropriately.

That is a letter-for-letter copy of the petition I used.
When the petition is filed, you will get a copy of the petition, and a case number. 30 days later, go back to the same court, and ask to see the judge to sign your Decree finalizing your name change:

DECREE

County of [County]

State of Iowa District Court

Whereas Petitioner has filed a Petition for a name change on [Date Petition was filed: Month day year], a copy of which is attached hereto
and made a part thereof AND Whereas Petitioner reasserts the following requisite information:

Name: [New Name Here]
Former Name: [Old Name Here]
Height:
Weight:
Color or Hair:
Color of Eyes:
Race:
Sex: [As it appears on the birth certificate]
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth: [Hospital, City, State]
Marital Status:
Children:
Real Property Owned:

Therefore, this Court hereby decrees that the name of [old name] is hereby changed to: [new name, must be in ALL CAPITALS in this spot only], pursuant to the laws and regulations of this State.[put a line here for the judge to sign it]

+++

The judge may have questions for you; answer them honestly and kindly. When I went, the judge's only question for me was "Why are you changing your last name as well?" to which I told him that the new last name held more meaning to me than the old. After the judge signs your decree, take it to be stamped and filed. Get a couple _certified_ copies of the decree, as you will need that when you go to Social Security and to the DoT for your new identification. Keep in mind that this only changes your name, the gender marker will be unchanged until after GRS * (Iowa's like that). I also strongly suggest you also request to have another certified copy of your vital record (what you get now instead of a birth certificate) sent to you. Unfortunely, you may be disappointed when you get it... The certificate of vital record has all your old information on it (thus, it is useless for stealth) with the words "ABSTRACT FROM LEGAL CHANGE OF NAME: On [Date], a Legal Change of Name was granted by the District Court, [County], [State], wherein the name of [Birth name] was legally changed to [New Name]." Oh well, at least your name is changed. Then you move on to whatever step is next in your journey.

* Another reader adds in December 2003 about gender marker change:

Regarding the name change project and Iowa:

There's a comment up on the Iowa page right now stating that the gender marker won't be changed until after GRS. I've no doubt that most government agencies will try to adhere to that, but if anyone is having such a problem, was born in Iowa and is willing to hire an attorney to deal with it in court I'd suggest looking at the exact language of Section 144.23, Iowa's birth certificate statute:

"The state registrar shall establish a new certificate of birth for a person born in this state, when the state registrar receives the following:

<snip>

3. A notarized affidavit by a licensed physician and surgeon or osteopathic physician and surgeon stating that by reason of surgery or other treatment by the licensee, the sex designation of the person has been changed. The state registrar may make a further investigation or require further information necessary to determine whether a sex change has occurred"

Note the words "or other treatment." Now, I am an attorney, but I'm not licensed in Iowa even though I'm currently living here, so I'm neither soliciting clientele nor offering a legal opinion. However, it seems that the combination of (1) a doctor who is willing to write a letter saying that hormones, orchiectomy (or mastectomy and/or hysterectomy for an FTM), etc. have caused a TS's sex to be changed; and (2) a lawyer willing to use that to argue to a court based on the "or other treatment" language might be able to convince a judge to approve of a gender marker change prior to GRS.

I have no idea if this has been done or even attempted, but it seems as though it would be worth a shot.

Other resources

 

Iowa State law

Precedent for transsexuals

[no specific case noted]