Maine 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.

Maine allows for women in our community to change their names before they have sex reassignment surgery.

A reader sent this in August 2011:

In Maine, name change procedures are done at the probate court of the county you are living in, usually located at the Courthouse. Specifically to the Portland area, the Cumberland County Courthouse is located in Federal Street, right behind Lincoln Park. Its probate court is located on the second floor, just ask for it. You will have to pay a fee which in Cumberland amounted to 70 dollars, plus 2 dollars for the form, a grand total of $72. The fee can vary by county. They will ask you for a photo ID, if you recently moved into the county and your ID's address doesn't reflect that, bring over some recent utility bill, or a lease, proving you live in the county.

Once that is done, it varies a bit per county: They told me that in Cumberland County they do the hearings only once a month, and the filings done two months prior go there. So, my having filed in August, means I will receive a summons in the mail to appear on October 7. From then, you have to show up before the Probate Judge, who may ask you any questions, though by Maine state law, he cannot refuse your name change on the grounds of your transsexuality, or the gender of the name. When I receive the summons, I will take the day off class, dress smartly, and be there punctually. Then the truly fun stuff begins, like DMV, Social Security, etc.

The only caveat I make in this, is that some of the nitty gritty specifics (like the fee, or whether you have to appear before the judge, or how long would it take for them to summon you) can vary from county to county. All my information and experiences are from Cumberland County, though I know people who have said that in Augusta they sometimes do not even require you to appear unless there's doubts as to anything. So as I said, some of those specifics vary from county to county in Maine.

 

A reader sent the following in June 2003:

Here's the procedure I followed in lining this up -- it was something very fast, very easy, and very cheap:

1. Go to the Probate Office, which you'll most likely find in your county courthouse.

2. Pick up a copy of Form CN-1, Petition for Adult Change of Name. You will be charged a minimal fee for this form -- mine cost $1.

3. Fill in the form.

Form CN-1 has two pages -- page one has spaces for stating your current legal name, your desired legal name, and a detailed reason why you are seeking the change. I filled in this section like so:

"I am a pre-operative transsexual undergoing hormonal and psychological treatment in anticipation of sexual reassignment surgery, and wish to adopt a gender-appropriate name. I have used this name on a common law basis since 1997 and hold various bank accounts under that name. I am also known professionally by this name."

Page 2 is an affadavit in which you're required to provide the names of any minor children you may have (none for me) and also to attest that you are not seeking to avoid debts, or are involved in pending bankruptcy proceedings, and that no person is known to have any objections to the proposed name change. You must also indicate whether the last name you've chosen is the name of any former spouse.

This page must be properly notarized and signed in your birthname. This willrequire you to out yourself to a notary --- which can be unpleasant or no big deal, depending on who you get to do it. I had the customer-service manager ofmy bank handle this -- I simply asked her to read the forms before I showed her my ID. Her eyes got really wide for a second as she looked at the license photo and then at me, but she regained composure very quickly and even offered congratulations as I left.

4. File the form at the probate office. Just hand it to the clerk along with a check for the filing fee. The fee will vary by county -- mine was $42 -- and includes the cost of publishing the required legal notice in your local paper.

Within the next day or so you'll receive a summons-like sheet in the mail telling you where and when to appear for your hearing before the probate judge. These are done in bulk, so you'll be one of several cases on the docket -- be there on time and ready to talk to the judge. I plan to bring my carry letter and documentation that I already use my female name in daily life -- bank statements, utility bills, etc -- and I'm told it should all be approved as a matter of routine.

That's all that's required here. No lawyers, no extreme fees, no major hassle other than making room on your schedule for a day in court. The advice I'm given for that is -- dress appropriately, be punctual, and be ready to answer any questions that may be put to you. And that, finally, will be that.

Other resources

 

Maine state law

The applicable main law is in the Maine Revised Statutes at Title 18-A §1-701

http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/18-a/title18-asec1-701.html

Title 18-A: PROBATE CODE
Article I: General Provisions, Definitions and Jurisdiction
Part 7: CHANGE OF NAME (HEADING: PL 1995, c. 694, Pt. C, @5 (new))
      
§1-701. Petition to change name

(a) If a person desires to have that person's name changed, the person may petition the judge of probate in the county where the person resides. If the person is a minor, the person's legal custodian may petition in the person's behalf. [2001, c. 163, §1 (new).]

(b) The judge, after due notice, may change the name of the person. To protect the person's safety, the judge may limit the notice required if the person shows by a preponderance of the evidence that:

(b) 

(1) The person is a victim of abuse; and  [2001, c. 163, §1 (new).]

(2) The person is currently in reasonable fear of the person's safety.  [2001, c. 163, §1 (new).][2001, c. 163, §1 (new).]

(c) The judge shall make and preserve a record of the name change. If the judge limited the notice required under subsection (b), the judge may seal the records of the name change. [2001, c. 667, Pt. A, §41 (amd).]

(d) The fee for filing the name change petition is $25. [2001, c. 163, §1 (new).]

Section History:
PL 1995,  Ch. 694,   §C5 (NEW).
PL 1995,  Ch. 694,   §E2 (AFF).
PL 1997,  Ch. 18,   §2 (AMD).
PL 1997,  Ch. 18,   §6 (AFF).
PL 2001,  Ch. 163,   §1 (RPR).
PL 2001,  Ch. 667,   §A41 (AMD).

Precedent for transsexuals

[no specific case noted]